HolidayBuyer's Guide

Selling Mozilla through sex and religion

Sex and ego sells, students in a project at Stanford University have confirmed, but so does religion.

Students at the Stanford school of design were assigned to come up with ways to promote Mozilla, the open source competitor to Internet Explorer. The first group devised a variant of the Mozilla browser called Faith Browser, said Diego Rodriguez, a professor at the school and a director at design firm IDEO.

With the faith browser, the home icon was replaced with a church and a halo icon was slotted in where the refresh icon usually goes. The idea was that Christian ministers would recommend it to churchgoers.

"When you refreshed you got a new line of scripture," he said. "This is all done in a non-cynical way."

While the Faith Browser has done well, it hasn't done as well as Firefoxies. This is a variant of the browser in which users submit their photographs, which are shown when the browser goes up. Friends can then vote for them.

"The trick is you have to download Firefox to vote," he said. "They had a 30 percent conversion rate, which is quite high."

The Firefoxies group became, for a period, the eighth most active organization for recruiting new users to Firefox. Firefox lauds those who recruit new users.

"They (Mozilla) are great at feeding the ego of their community," he said.