Let’s get Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for a minute here and talk aesthetics. There is the art aesthetic which prefers the polished clean look. Think iPhone. Then there is the engineer aesthetic which prefers the nuts and bolts. Think the inner circuitry of the iPhone. Both are different manifestations of the same idea.
At Mozilla, there is a preference for the nuts and bolts. The community wants early releases, not a final launch. There is a version of Firefox called Nightly which gets updated nightly as developers build Firefox. The Mozilla community is not looking for a final polished product to be shown to them, there is little room to contribute to something like that. Instead, the Mozilla community builds the product, hacking away, fixing bugs, and iterating. For an organization built around involvement, this is important. Imagine walking by a neighbor’s house and seeing a motorcycle (yes, full circle) being taken apart, with parts laid out all over the garage vs that same garage with a brand new motorcycle sitting there, the engine perfectly covered and inaccessible. You can actually help this neighbor who’s motorcycle guts are all over the floor – you become better and you make a friend.
By the time the rest of us are using Firefox, it has been polished. Not everyone wants the nuts and bolts. But it is always there for those who do… and that is the important part.