One of the most frustrating things about free software is that it frequently fails to build on its strengths beyond its code-base.
This is probably because programmers are keener to produce the next cool hack than to worry about meta-tasks that seem more akin to marketing.
A case in point is the Firefox extension ecosystem. Time and again I hear people say that they can't really shift to otherwise tempting offerings like Chrome/Chromium because there are one or two Firefox extensions that are “indispensable” for them.
This kind of benign lock-in – benign, because it is born of genuine benefit from using the system, not simply because a manufacturer has made it practically impossible to escape – is so powerful that it should be foremost in the mind of those charged with moving free software projects forward, not an afterthought.
And yet it is only now that Mozilla is starting to build consciously on the amazing success of Firefox addons, with the announcement of Jetpack:
The add-ons community for Firefox is arguably one of the largest, most vibrant sources for innovation on the Web today. If you want to affect people, to reach them and make a difference in their daily lives, the Firefox add-ons platform is hard to beat, with over one billion installs of Firefox add-ons to date.
However, we’ve only scratched the surface of its potential.
Today we’re announcing the launch of Jetpack, a Mozilla Labs project to explore new ways to extend & personalize the Web.