Mark Surman is Executive Director of Mozilla Foundation, the parent organisation of internet browser Mozilla Fire Fox. Mozilla, the US-based software company, has already earned global reputation in the information communications technology (ICT) sector. Recently, the company unveiled Mozilla OS. Surman was in Dhaka on September 8-10 to attend the 3-day 54th conference of Commonwealth Telecommunuic-ations Organisation (CTO).
The Daily Observer talked to the Mozilla boss on the sideline of the CTO forum at the Radisson Winter Garden hotel on Wednesday, the concluding day of the conference. In the exclusive interview, Surman dwelt on the issues relating to the ICT and his company's future business plan in Bangladesh.
Observer: Would you please brief something on your internationally reputed company?
Surman: Mozilla Foundation started its journey as a non-profit organization in July 2003 to promote openness, innovation and participation on the Internet. We added values to an open Internet globally in a broader way. Mozilla Organisation, the earlier name of Mozilla Foundation, was created by Netscape on February 23, 1998, which aimed at co-ordinating development of the Mozilla Application Suite.
Mozilla Foundation grew over the years to become as a successful business organisation by taking over many tasks that were traditionally left to Netscape and other vendors of Mozilla technology. It also turned more assertive over its intellectual property, with policies putting in place for the use of Mozilla trademark.
Observer: What are the areas you now focus on?
Surman: Mozilla has now two areas to focus on. Firstly, we're working on promoting application development and leading the Smartphone market. Ours is an organisation that is known widely for the Firefox browser, but we advance our mission through other software projects, grants and engagement and education efforts, such as Mozilla Webmaker. Webmaker is all about building a new generation of digital creators. This software gives people tools and skills they need to move from using a web to actively making it. We move with our mobile OS mainly.
Observer: Do you face any challenges from Android and iOS in smart phone market?
Surman: Yes, we do. But our experience with our Firefox OS is good. When we started OS, Microsoft had a 98 per cent market share with their Windows in 2011. Within 3 years, we had been able to grab a 25 percent market share. We don't consider Android and iOS as our rivals in the market. We want a sound footing first and look forward to having a space here. We have customised content for a specific region. You know we promote application development in Bangladesh focusing on native language. About 95 per cent of the population here speak in Bangla. So we hope we'll reach out to them with their native language.
Observer: How Mozilla can contribute to the ICT sector in Bangladesh?
Surman: Bangladesh has already stepped into the digitised world. Mozilla is not unfamiliar here. We've introduced a 'student ambassador' programme here, which helps young programmers learn about web development as well as the basic of its application. We chose a few such ambassadors from the university-going students who contribute to the Mozilla wiki and development of Mozilla OS. In near future, Mozilla will move with programmes to promote education among women and marginalised communities through ICT here.
Observer: What is the prospect of the ICT sector here in the next five years?
Surman: I'm very optimistic about the prospect. You know Bangladesh's main power is its human resources. A digital economy will be the driving force of your development very soon. Mobile money services from operators have reached the mass. And the prospect in the textile sector is huge, if it is digitalised.