You always want to avoid single points of failure. A variation on this theme was raised on “This Week in Startups,” a live show and podcast where serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis brings on accomplished guests to discuss and help startups. (I’m referencing Episode 15 with Roelof Botha.) A caller was seeking advice since his Facebook application lost distribution due to a policy change by Facebook. He saw his business evaporate.

Today, Brand Thunder announced the beta launch of the Internet Explorer Boom!. This is not just a huge milestone in our ability to serve our clients and end users, it’s another step toward mitigating risk in our whole business. Here are a few thoughts on single dependency and how it shaped getting us to this point.

Eco-systems and Platforms

When we started building on Firefox, addons.mozilla.org (AMO) offered an ideal proving ground for concept and technology. It offered an aggregated audience predisposed to enhancing their browsing experience with add-ons. Other companies built their businesses here as well (StumbleUpon, Clipmarks, Delicious). Facebook is that environment for social applications.

Any time you’re beholden to a single entity, there’s the risk for a single point of failure should something in that relationship change. Mozilla being open source and community driven isn’t like other organizations, but it’s still serves a segment of the Internet population. To meet the needs of our clients, we need to serve as wide an audience as possible and that service is on other browser platforms.

Channels to Market

AMO is a tremendous help in getting our product to end users, but it’s not our only source of distribution. Since we built custom browsers for major brands, we had the advantage of distributing through their sites and their fan sites as well. For successful social applications, they look to Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and leverage their Viral Loop. Other browser extensions build out to IE, Safari, Opera, Chrome and so on.

We weren’t limited to a single channel, but now we extend that even further through access to IEAddons.com and sites devoted to Windows downloads. And since we’re unique the visual immersion we bring to the browser experience, there’s an opportunity to satisfy and under-served market.

The Internet Explorer Highlights

So, we’ve improved our position in a couple key areas for our business and we’re thrilled about that. But, here’s why we think our clients and end users will be excited as well.

  • Internet Explorer has never allowed this much visual customization in this simple a process.
  • While not an exact replication of our Firefox product, the key elements of graphical design, content & functional integration and multi-media sidebars remain intact.
  • Our clients can now easily reach 90% of users with an add-on that delivers an extreme makeover through the browser they are using today.
  • Our prospective end users don’t have to first migrate to a new browser if they’re not on it already.
  • The story about how a little download can add a lot of Boom! to a browser just became a whole lot bigger.

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