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Because Firefox is just too darn white.
December 8, 2008 4:48 PM   Subscribe

Blackbird. Are you reading this page on Firefox, Opera, or IE? More importantly, are you black? Then you might want to check out Blackbird: "a web browser designed for the African-American community."
posted by zardoz (84 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I donated to the project using my African-American Express card.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:50 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


I swear I will hunt down and strangle the first person to say "why isn't there a browser for white people?! Reverse racism!"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:56 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Didn't someone do something like this already, with a search engine that assumed people searching for "Whitney" meant "Whitney Houston" and not "Whitney Museum"?
posted by emelenjr at 4:57 PM on December 8, 2008


This honestly perplexes me.
posted by Hargrimm at 5:00 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Tough choices ahead for Obama.
posted by gman at 5:02 PM on December 8, 2008


Why isn't there a browser just for Barenaked Ladies fans like me? RACIST.
posted by Bageena at 5:03 PM on December 8, 2008


Why isn't there a browser just for naked ladies fans like me?

Um, it's called the internet.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:05 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blackbird doesn't support Linux-based and Mac-based computers.

Equal, but separate?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:06 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does it block Stuff White People Like?
posted by desjardins at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Snowbird, "a web browser designed for the Aging-American community."
Freebird, "a web browser designed for the LameAudience-American community."
Surfinbird, "a web browser designed for the Californian-American community."
Jaybird, "a web browser designed for the NakedLadiesFan-American community."
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nothing works to end racism like a ghetto.
posted by GuyZero at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2008 [12 favorites]


Why isn't there a browser for white people?! Reverse racism!

hides in tree. waiting.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:12 PM on December 8, 2008


But which browser do I use to look up interracial porn?
posted by qvantamon at 5:13 PM on December 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


This mostly sounds like stuff you could get with a theme and a plugin. However, some of my best friends would looove a feature that allowed them to "Check email in the sidebar." Is there a Firefox plugin that does that? I'd be so there. Errr...assuming it didn't mess up my existing Thunderbird haps.
posted by DU at 5:13 PM on December 8, 2008


Black people browse like this. White people browse like this.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:18 PM on December 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


One day there will be an Google ethnicity setting that will help me when I want to find only references to steamed rice cake. I haven't a need for prostitutes (male or otherwise).
posted by Mister Cheese at 5:19 PM on December 8, 2008


Equal, but separate?

It seems to just be Firefox with a shitty default theme, so I don't see why it wouldn't work on Linux.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:20 PM on December 8, 2008


DU - are some of your best friends black?
posted by gman at 5:22 PM on December 8, 2008


Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this just a themed Firefox with a toolbar and default bookmarks for black-oriented sites? Can you really call that a seperate browser? They could have just as easily released a Firefox addon and accomplished the same thing.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:27 PM on December 8, 2008


As a piece of software designed to connect black people outta the box, it makes sense. The web is a huge place and getting larger all the time, so the only surprising part is that this has happened sooner. It would probably be better as a Firefox plugin though, since it's not like we need special technology. It would also make it easier to support platforms that are in the minority, i.e. Linux and Mac.

Also the link in the post should go to http://www.blackbirdhome.com/index.html, which gives a better explanation of the browser.

I know it seems odd and I'm not saying it's the best idea in the world but it's not as crazy as it may seem at first glance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:29 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not a bad idea because it has to do with Black people; it's a bad idea because micro-audience browsers generally fail.

Also, it's always a bit odd to essentially assert that one demographic element ("black") is somehow a more important element of self-identity than any other element, e.g. "man", "mother", "Raiders fan". Do we need a browser for those groups too?
posted by GuyZero at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait, how come all the banner ads are for malt liquor and menthol cigarettes?
posted by klangklangston at 5:37 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


"why isn't there a browser for white people?!

Are you that desperate for an Opera/monocle joke?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:38 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


"Also, it's always a bit odd to essentially assert that one demographic element ("black") is somehow a more important element of self-identity than any other element, e.g. "man", "mother", "Raiders fan". Do we need a browser for those groups too?"

Lions fans need a browser that lies about NFL standings.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


Also, is there pH balanced browser for her?

Cause sometimes, I just don't feel fresh.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:40 PM on December 8, 2008 [13 favorites]


One of the obnoxious things about racism is having to examine my white privilege in ways I never even imagined.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:45 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


weapons-grade pandemonium: ugh. rimshot. oooooh. :)
posted by nosila at 5:48 PM on December 8, 2008


I fear this thread quickly becoming one giant flag...

Look, other than the appalling lack of Linux support, isn't this the dream of open source software? The sheer inertia of popular demand controls what succeeds and what fails. Even if this fails, we're all better for a system that lets people control what software succeeds instead of Mapple and M'soft, right?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:50 PM on December 8, 2008


Yeah, I'm... really not getting this.

I was going to say "I would be equally perplexed if there was an Asian-North American browser that zoned in on things that might be of interest to the stereotypical Asian-North American", but then I wondered if that would be insensitive. I don't think it is, but then again, maybe I'm missing something.

I'm not sure if this sort of beanplating is what the anti-racism-activists had in mind, though.
posted by Phire at 5:52 PM on December 8, 2008


This honestly perplexes me.

the fact it's powered by mozilla amuses me.
posted by originalboo at 5:55 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


isn't this the dream of open source software?

Forking every project over all sorts of technically irrelevant details? No, I don't think that's the open-source dream.
posted by GuyZero at 6:00 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


At my public library, I talk to a lot of older, not-especially-computer-literate folks, usually African-American, and, often, they complain about popup ads and spyware and whatnot on their home computers. This seems like a natural fit, and like it might be just the thing to get folks' aunts and grandmas and whatnot to ditch Internet Explorer. Seems like a neat idea.
posted by box at 6:00 PM on December 8, 2008


That's true. We white folk do love our popup ads and spyware.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:05 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, this thread proves that racism is completely dead on the Internet. Wait, not dead. The other thing.
posted by DU at 6:07 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's not a bad idea because it has to do with Black people; it's a bad idea because micro-audience browsers generally fail.

Linking to one person's dislike of the Flock browser isn't proof of that and you're forgetting one of the strengths of the web: the ability for micro audiences to connect.

Also, it's always a bit odd to essentially assert that one demographic element ("black") is somehow a more important element of self-identity than any other element, e.g. "man", "mother", "Raiders fan". Do we need a browser for those groups too?

When man, mother or Raiders fan has experienced 400 years of abuse and slavery as matter of social and government policy, that can have their own browser too, ok? Oh wait, they can have one now, if they so choose to write one or adapt Firefox.

I know, I know, when are black people going to get over that shit, right? That's all over right, brave new world, hell a black man is gonna be President, right? Well yeah, but history doesn't away, it keeps on leaking down into the cracks of the present. Here's an example: My mom nearly beat my ass when I was about 7 or eight for not getting a receipt from 7/11. She went into a tirade, warning me how trouble I can get into if the cops stopped me and asked to see my receipt and I didn't have one. I thought she was nuts at the time, but it makes sense of course. She grew up watching that tactic being pulled on her own brother and friends, so she was trying to put the fear of god in me in the hopes that I wouldn't have to deal with that. I never did, times had changed enough, but the history was still there in the background.

Look, this is not the "Kill Whitey" browser, ok? It's designed to help a minority group of people interact more easily and connect to issues that matter most to them. Like I said, I'm not in love with the project and don't agree with it's great step in the right direction, but it's understandable and no doubt has the best of intentions. Black people survived in America by building a community that they could trust within the confines of a larger community that they couldn't trust and wouldn't trust them. This is logical step.

If this bothers anyone, then next time pick your own damn cotton.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 PM on December 8, 2008 [14 favorites]


When man, mother or Raiders fan has experienced 400 years of abuse and slavery as matter of social and government policy, that can have their own browser too, ok? Oh wait, they can have one now, if they so choose to write one or adapt Firefox.

Jesus Christ. Did you just McCain the issue? Cause I think POW's need their own browsers, too.

As in: it's not as if these aren't important historical issues -- but how do they relate to the product? And if they don't, is it not pandering?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who dreamed that, one day, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners would come together and be able to sit down with different ways of facebooking each other.
posted by shadytrees at 6:29 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Turdus merula for browsing Swedes.
posted by tellurian at 6:32 PM on December 8, 2008


but how do they relate to the product? And if they don't, is it not pandering?

They don't relate to the product if you think of it solely as a browser. But it's more than that, it's the preset bookmarks and feeds and whatnots.

Yes, that sounds a lot more like a job for firefox plugins... but have you tried getting a leery internet n00b to switch to firefox? Suggesting that they go download one "browser" makes it a lot easier for them than explaining plugins and customizations.

If those presets help some previously internet-challenged people get out on the web, that sounds like a pretty good thing.

All that said, the stuff in the 'Discover Blackbird' section flicks by way too fast. Or maybe I read slower than black people.
posted by CKmtl at 6:36 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]



it's not as if these aren't important historical issues -- but how do they relate to the product?

I know, right? It makes you wonder why black newspapers ever came about, or why movies or music or advertising targeted at black people ever happened.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on December 8, 2008


Linking to one person's dislike of the Flock browser isn't proof...

I don't know if it was meant to be proof so much as an anecdote that supports my argument. It's just an opinion - browsers are the wrong level to form communities around. Should there be a black operating system? A black PC hardware specification? Black mice? Black keyboards? USB cables for the African-American community? If there was an OSI 7-layer model of online communities, browsers are not at the top where real community building happens.

If you think that the browser is the right way to do this, by all means show me some examples.

Besides, what about public libraries, where a lot of lower-income people (of all races) get their internet access - you can't install this in places like that. So you're excluding those people from your "Blackbird community". If this thing is doing something other than rendering W3C HTML as fast as possible then it's BROWZER FAIL. Dedicated binary clients for connecting to an online service are 1991.

Look, this is not the "Kill Whitey" browser, ok?

Uh, ok. I don't really feel threatened if that's what you're getting up. Yay black people.

These second-tier open-source projects suffer from a lack of high-quality, dedicated people to fix issues with them. This isn't about black people; it's about forking for the wrong reasons. Let me repeat the operative word here: ghetto. I am all for communities; unless I'm missing something, ghettos are generally considered a bad thing.

Substitute "black" for any other group and my arguments are the same.

Unless you're saying there's some sort of invisible backpack/bias against black people in stock browsers. I don't see it but you could write an encyclopedia about what I don't see. Please educate me.

Like I said, I'm not in love with the project and don't agree with it's great step in the right direction, but it's understandable and no doubt has the best of intentions.

Huh. You seem pretty upset for someone who partly agrees with me. Sure, it has good intentions.
posted by GuyZero at 6:40 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know, right? It makes you wonder why black newspapers ever came about, or why movies or music or advertising targeted at black people ever happened.

Sloppy analogy.

Black newspapers == black websites.

Black browser == ... black printing press?

But maybe that's just my white fixation with separating technical issues from social issues.
posted by GuyZero at 6:42 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


This browser smells like cocoa butter and luxurious hair oils.

I'm going to hell
posted by The Whelk at 6:46 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


SweetbirdofYouth, "a web browser designed for the Male-Homosexual-American community."
posted by The Whelk at 6:48 PM on December 8, 2008


Luxurious what?
posted by gman at 6:48 PM on December 8, 2008


Do I still need this if I already use a Blackberry?
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:59 PM on December 8, 2008


In general, I think this browser is pretty neat. The idea of connecting smaller groups on the web via customized apps is great.

The part that confuses me is this: It looks like the people behind this browser want it to make money. How do they expect to do that? People aren't too likely to want to use a browser that adds some additional advertising while delivering something marginal.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 7:01 PM on December 8, 2008


"the fact it's powered by mozilla amuses me."

Mo'zilla, by the Wayans.

"Look, this is not the "Kill Whitey" browser, ok?"

As a white man who went to college, I'm exactly the demographic for a Kill Whitey browser.

The real question is whether Obama will use Blackbird.

(Trick question. Dude probably writes his own custom browser.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:09 PM on December 8, 2008


So black people need their own browser now to connect with other black people?

I don't get it.
posted by weezy at 7:14 PM on December 8, 2008


Should there be a black operating system? A black PC hardware specification? Black mice? Black keyboards? USB cables for the African-American community?

Maybe you're overthinking this and trying to use hypotheticals to try to prove a point.

Look at it this way: Are you against black websites? I'm guessing not, it probably fits into where you think communities should be organized. That's fine, but there's no reason that has to be the onlySloppy analogy.

I think you're getting caught up specious technical arguments, seemingly from a web developer's point of view, that don't necessarily apply here. Your problem with Blackbird seems to be that it's the wrong way to go about connecting communities, to which I just shrug my shoulders. People are messy and will connect how they want to connect. It's easy for me to open a browser and find anything, but to some it can be intimidating, so I'm not gonna fault them too much if they flock to browser that puts all the handy info they want right in front of them.

To wit: your Flock anecdote really falls apart for me, because I love Flock because it allows me to see a lot of my social connections at once. Applying that "at a glance view" to black issues sounds like a stroke of genius the more I think about it.

But maybe that's just my white fixation with separating technical issues from social issues.

I apologize if I came off snippy, that wasn't my intent, it's just been a long day.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 PM on December 8, 2008


Black newspapers == black websites.

Black browser == ... black printing press?


In this case it's more like:

Black browser with included apps == black newspaper stand that provides an easy place to access black newspapers and magazines.
posted by CKmtl at 7:23 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


When man, mother or Raiders fan has experienced 400 years of abuse and slavery as matter of social and government policy, that can have their own browser too, ok?

That is the shittiest reparation offer ever. Don't take it! Demand gold, at least. Not stocks now. Or... anything else really.
posted by Tehanu at 7:42 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fercrissakes, I was excited to get a look, but yeow, why's it so boring looking? I predict black people staying away in droves.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:50 PM on December 8, 2008


The part that confuses me is this: It looks like the people behind this browser want it to make money. How do they expect to do that?

Very easily. Under About:
In turn, we can provide you with up-to-date information about what's hot in our community as well as news and user recommendations related to all things African American.

If they can control a precision demographic's window to the internet, embedded advertising and referrals is the natural play. Color me nothing if not cynical, but transmuting race and identity into brand tends to quickly fall to traversing the most rote, lowest rungs of a culture, and, worse, doing so under the Aegis of championing that culture. At the end of the day, and under whatever false flag we've chosen - BET, Russell Simmons (bane of rap and poetry), Larry the fucking Cable Guy, ad nauseam - it's usually about selling Reeboks.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:03 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Which is not to say that this product necessarily warrants all criticisms above; rather, overwhelming precedence says that it will.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:04 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, those preloaded bookmarks are worth some dollars.
posted by ryanrs at 8:22 PM on December 8, 2008


So, wait - has this been the thread in which the term 'beanplating' has been coined, or has it been used before? Because I love that term and just want to know when it was first used here.

Also - "If this bothers anyone, then next time pick your own damn cotton." - I'm sorry, but are you a smart person who became briefly retarded enough to write something like that? Because that's about the worst way to support your argument that I could imagine, especially after such a a good start.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:28 PM on December 8, 2008


Lions fans need a browser that lies about NFL standings.

no one's going to write a browser for 50 people, dude
posted by pyramid termite at 8:37 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


have you tried getting a leery internet n00b to switch to firefox?

Hmm. Having done so, point taken.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:10 PM on December 8, 2008


This is awesome. It's just like Netscape Navigator except the captain's wheel is chrome and it keeps spinning after the page is loaded.
posted by moift at 9:41 PM on December 8, 2008 [8 favorites]


So does it still find the pron?
posted by arse_hat at 10:40 PM on December 8, 2008


Self-stereotyping is the best kind of stereotyping.
posted by moonbiter at 11:06 PM on December 8, 2008


So, wait - has this been the thread in which the term 'beanplating' has been coined, or has it been used before? Because I love that term and just want to know when it was first used here.

Nope. The earliest use I could find was this:


CF, please stop beanplating the hairsplit issue.
posted to MetaTalk by cortex at 12:59 PM on May 31, 2007

posted by louche mustachio at 1:03 AM on December 9, 2008


Look, this is not the "Kill Whitey" browser, ok?

No, that's the one for Williamsburg hipsters. Apparently CocoRosie are big fans.
posted by acb at 3:07 AM on December 9, 2008


Also - "If this bothers anyone, then next time pick your own damn cotton." - I'm sorry, but are you a smart person who became briefly retarded enough to write something like that?

No, not this time.

Nothing works to end racism like a ghetto.

Forgot to make this point in my tired haze: It's not called the ghetto anymore, the term 'hood is used more often and applies to all economic classes. In short, while you may see this as marginalization, black people, in general, will see it as logical outgrowth of that safe community, where if nothing else, you could be surrounded by those like yourself. Whatever problems there might be in the 'hood at least you didn't have to deal with the many levels of racism.

This is not always good, but I think it hits a point you're not getting by your use of the term ghetto: black people really aren't interested in integration. Tried that, didn't really work, so we're just going to stick with our communities, thanks.

Personally, I like integration, society works best when people mix, but I think blacks quietly discovered they could do alright by sticking to their own communities more often which has pluses and minues. Blackbird is just another step in that cycle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:58 AM on December 9, 2008


I like this for a bunch of reasons. Most of them have been eloquently asserted by Brandon Blatcher.

I would like to see something equivalent for British Afro Caribbeans.

I'm curious also as to how they skew search results towards Black sites using "a custom google search." Do they just add "African American" to the query string, or is there something cleverer happening.

I can imagine searches throwing stuff up like:
You searched for Whitey. Did you mean to search for Whitney?

The bookmarks worry me the most. I can't see how the sites added to the bookmark list can be totally representative. They say up-to-date information about what's hot in our community as well as news and user recommendations related to all things African American.. Hopefully those user recommendations are not edited too much, and are based on what people are actually using Blackbird for. (As opposed to what the Blackbird editors think people should be using Blackbird for)
posted by seanyboy at 5:16 AM on December 9, 2008


Arstechnica has an article about Blackbird, which gives more details, such as why a browswer as opposed to plugins:
When asked why his company didn't simply produce a couple of add-ons for Firefox instead of an entire customized version, Young's answers confirmed the obvious. "Add-ons aren't nearly as exciting or powerful for what we want to do. It would be a lot more difficult to tell the story, and it's easier to get people to download one browser than a bunch of add-ons that they would have to customize and keep updated."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:28 AM on December 9, 2008


klangklangston writes "The real question is whether Obama will use Blackbird."

But Obama uses a Mac. You can't get Blackbird for a Mac.

And forget about him switching, 'cause we all know: once you go Mac...
posted by caution live frogs at 6:00 AM on December 9, 2008


Blackbird doesn't support Linux-based and Mac-based computers.

Rats, I was hoping to run this on my Jesux box and spread racial and spiritual healing on my network.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:03 AM on December 9, 2008


You'd also think they'd come up with a hipper name for their browser.
posted by gman at 8:02 AM on December 9, 2008


Also, those preloaded bookmarks are worth some dollars.

Ding ding ding!

My cynic-o-meter went off the charts when I saw the BET bookmark in the screenshot. I'm a white dude, and even I know BET hasn't done the black community any favors.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:20 AM on December 9, 2008


it might be just the thing to get folks' aunts and grandmas and whatnot to ditch Internet Explorer

Repeated for emphasis. ANYTHING that can be done to swing the majority away from IE is a step in the right direction.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:40 AM on December 9, 2008


Yay for going home and not being on MeFi for several hours a day.

...I just shrug my shoulders. People are messy and will connect how they want to connect.

So there's not much counterargument to be made there. Sure. I just think it's a bad way of doing so that has a lot of drawbacks. Someone has to bug-fix the browser. Will they run a server to provide auto-updates? Will their QA be as extensive and complete as Firefox or IE's? While these are technical arguments, I think they matter because building a community around a crappy browser is going to be a pretty tough slog.

your Flock anecdote really falls apart for me, because I love Flock...

Ah-ha. I don't hate Flock, but I think it's been a complete and utter failure, both technically and as a product/business. It is a worse browser with features that are not very differentiated from FF/IE that has soaked up several million dollars of VC money with virtually no user base to show for it. So certainly our positions make sense if we both see this as a Black Flock but have vastly different opinions on whether Flock is a success.

I apologize if I came off snippy

Apologies for snippyness are few and far between on MeFi so thanks and sorry for being snippy back.

black people really aren't interested in integration.

Apparently they're interested in the integration of web browsing, email and community-building social features. (*crickets*)

I'll have to take your word for it. Again, I think that these custom browsers exclude as many people in the target audience as they include: black people who access the internet at public library terminals or at school, black people with Macs and/or Linux, black people who want a browser that doesn't suck, black people with iPhones. Whatever this browser is offering, all those people can't get. So it simply seems to be the wrong way to approach the issue regardless of whether black people integrate or not. I don't personally see everyone using the same browser leading to social integration any more than the fact that BET and Fox News both broadcast using the same NTSC TV standard.

Blackbird is just another step in that cycle.

Again, I'll have to take your word for it. But based on the black community in other media (BET, newspapers or whatever) and the failure of similar technical projects with different target audiences (whoever the heck Flock is aimed at) it seems unnecessary and destined to fail.

Also, I just don't think they can generate much money. Selling bookmarks is not a huge business, directing searches to Google to get AdSense for Search money only nets Firefox in the $50M range and that's with a much larger marketshare than Blackbird is ever going to get. Flock got $28M of funding (!!) and is still not profitable. Ads, bookmarks and search are volume businesses and Blackbird would have to get used by every single black person in America in order to make any significant money.
posted by GuyZero at 9:19 AM on December 9, 2008


"Forgot to make this point in my tired haze: It's not called the ghetto anymore, the term 'hood is used more often and applies to all economic classes. In short, while you may see this as marginalization, black people, in general, will see it as logical outgrowth of that safe community, where if nothing else, you could be surrounded by those like yourself. Whatever problems there might be in the 'hood at least you didn't have to deal with the many levels of racism."

I think you missed the point with "ghetto." Think back to its use prior to black neighborhoods.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on December 9, 2008


I tried to find a few numbers.

Firefox: 125M users (200&).
Mozilla Foundation 2007 search revenue: $68M.

Ergo, each users is worth about $0.54 in search referrals per year, assuming you can get the same deal that the Mozilla foundation gets with its search partners.

There are approx 36M African-Americans. If you get 10% of them using the browser it's less than $2M annually. If you can run the operation on a shoestring, it could be a nice lifestyle business. But as we can see with Flock, it takes ten times that much money just to build the product. No one is going to invest $20M to build a product that grosses $2M annually.
posted by GuyZero at 10:47 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If this bothers anyone, then next time pick your own damn cotton.

Picked a lot of cotton lately, BB?
posted by c13 at 10:54 AM on December 9, 2008


They could have just as easily released a Firefox addon and accomplished the same thing.

This, I think, is a huge drag on the adoption of Firefox.

I tell non-techies how great Firefox is and all these cool features it has. And then I remember that 60% of those features aren't included when you install Firefox. You have to know about then locate and then search an enormous, confusing index of extensions (what are those?), you have to know enough about how browsing works and how the web works to even know what kind of features you want. It really is not something my dad is going to take on and do.

I don't know if the particulars are worked out well in this case, but I think custom builds of Firefox that have all the tech-savy customization done for you (and, yes, with built in bookmarks that are targeted to what the user actually wants) is a great idea.
posted by straight at 11:25 AM on December 9, 2008


Couldn't they have just changed Firefox's name to Firefoxy? Throw in a Billy Dee Williams voiceover and we're set.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:47 PM on December 9, 2008


I'm kind of disappointed that this browser doesn't browse faster and higher than any other. I guess that I'll be sticking with the Kill Whitey browser.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:10 PM on December 9, 2008


Looking at the company behind Blackbird, I'm starting to get a bad feeling.

For one, they're not making themselves easy to find, by the lack of email links in their contact info. Smells fishy for someone with the skill to do a Mozilla fork.

Then there's the company homepage. That picture doesn't inspire confidence.

The browser makes itself the default, even without asking, according to a couple of reviews. Can't verify this as I don't have access to my PC today and really, after those reviews, what tech savy person would want to install it?

There's a few interesting philosophical thoughts here.

Onward to responses:

I think you missed the point with "ghetto." Think back to its use prior to black neighborhoods.

Nah, I got that, just think blacks have changed the definition, generally speaking of course.

black people who access the internet at public library terminals or at school, black people with Macs and/or Linux, black people who want a browser that doesn't suck, black people with iPhones.

I don't think it's targeting them, I get the feeling they're going after particularly non-tech savy people. Take a look at distribution partners, here's a quote from the page:
"Blackbird is proud to partner with non-profit organizations, both local and national, that have demonstrated their long-term commitment to the African American community and that continue to lead the way toward a vibrant and empowered future."
I'm guessing they're targeting users of community centers and organizations, which will provide the computers for these people to use. From there they can develop a base to which they can then approach advertisers with. Not a bad idea, but the lack of visibility of the company or its 3 members is disturbing. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that when you're making a web widget you have a blog talking about said widget and introducing yourself out the ying-yang. The fact that this company is not doing that, yet pushing an internet browser for gods sakes smacks of shiftiness.

If you get 10% of them using the browser it's less than $2M annually. If you can run the operation on a shoestring, it could be a nice lifestyle business.

True, but it's a company of three at this point, so that could work. I'd love to see the numbers on what they've spent so far, but I don't think that's happening.

Picked a lot of cotton lately, BB?

Tomatoes actually. We planted some this summer and they just won't quit producing them, despite the cold snaps here.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:34 PM on December 9, 2008


so that could work

Firefox has roughly 8% of worldwide Internet users, depending on how you want to count those numbers, so Blackbird has to be relatively as successful, or more successful, than Firefox.

Of course, for the record, I also though online data backups would never work and in 1990 I said no one would ever be able to do CGI in movies that wouldn't be painfully obvious. So one should take my declarations of impending failure with a grain of salt.

I also ported code from Windows 2 to Windows 3 and once saw a live dinosaur in the mirror.
posted by GuyZero at 3:46 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I should get off your lawn.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:03 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


kuujjuarapik »» Surfinbird, "a web browser designed for the Californian-American community."

Ugh. Now I have this image of a browser that, when opened, starts spitting out pop-up windows as so:

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-oom-oom-oom

<pop> Oom-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-a-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Papa-ooma-mow-mow, ooma-mow-mow

<pop> Well don't you know about the bird?
[YES] [NO]

<pop> Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!
posted by WCityMike at 11:50 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


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