I've long been a fan of Google, but it's often disheartening to see a parade of tools from Google Labs that are IE/Windows only. The Google Toolbar is IE-only, Google Compute and the Gmail Notifier are Windows-only (though Gmail itself works wonderfully in Firefox on Linux), and the Google Desktop Search is Windows-only with a Mac OS X version on the way. (Beagle promises to provide a more-than-suitable alternative for Linux users, however.) In the face of Google's indifference to Linux/Firefox users, it's encouraging that Amazon is being more inclusive with its A9 toolbar. The A9 toolbar works on Firefox across Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Why did amazon provide an A9 toolbar for Firefox? Because people asked:
Executives at A9 said the company had received a large number of requests from consumers looking for a version of the software to run with Firefox. The open-source browser has spurred considerable interest among Web surfers, who have downloaded 7 million copies of the latest release of the browser since September, according to Mozilla's estimates.
This is just a small victory for open source users, but a significant one nonetheless. Many longtime Linux and users have probably given up on contacting companies to provide Linux-compatible drivers and software, but Amazon has demonstrated that it's not a waste of time some companies will listen to their users. It's worthwhile to contact companies to remind them that Microsoft isn't the only game in town, and there's money to be made by treating all users as first-class citizens, rather than only supporting the most popular OS and browser. Yes, the A9 toolbar is a freebie but Amazon is no doubt hoping that A9 use will lead to increased sales for Amazon, in addition to providing Amazon with a little goodwill boost amongst Firefox users. It might also give A9.com a small boost in the search market, and every bit counts.