Firefox fans promote browser in Europe

Fund-raising campaign for Mozilla's browser raises enough money to place ad in German newspaper.

After the success of The New York Times ad fundraising campaign, Firefox fans have turned to Europe, placing a publicly funded advertisement for the open-source browser in a German newspaper.

A fund-raising campaign set up by European Firefox fans raised more than $93,000, the majority of which was used to fund the full-page ad, which appeared Thursday in the business section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The ad included the names of all those who donated money to the campaign.

Hagen Merzdorf, one of the founders of the fund-raising Web site, said the campaign was such a success that after paying for the ad, it had money left over, which it donated to Mozilla Europe, the European affiliate of the Mozilla Foundation.

The ad included the word "FIRE!" in large letters across the top, as well as more information about Firefox, before listing the names of the 2,403 people who contributed.

"Hundreds of programmers have together developed a revolutionary Web browser," part of the ad said. "They have worked on it voluntarily and are giving it to the whole world."

The ad design was popular among many people, according to Merzdorf. "We had a lot of feedback on the ad," he said. "There were some people who said they would have done it differently, but most people were happy about the ad and said the layout was good."

Mozilla Europe has been unable to provide figures on the number of Web hits it has experienced since the publication of the ad, but the campaign Web site had 45,000 hits on the page that allows users to download the ad image, Merzdorf said.

The campaign was initially aiming for between 3,000 and 3,500 donations, but Merzdorf wasn't sure of that estimate because the ad followed the successful U.S. ad campaign.

"One problem was that the campaign in the U.S. started earlier, so a lot of people from Germany had already contributed to this campaign," Merzdorf said.

Firefox has succeeded in more ways than money raised. Since the final version was released Nov. 9, it has been downloaded more than 8 million times and appears to be taking market share away from Internet Explorer, according to Web traffic measurement service OneStat.com.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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