I must say I kind a like the name Firefox, but Joe Clark had found something (and made me laugh) and I felt to post it: Firefox: Still a ridiculous name.
It's a lot less obvious (equivalent to usability?), but a lot more charming (equivalent to aesthetics?), than, say
Internet Explorer, I reckon. The views on this matter are bound to differ, and not one is wrong or right. It's a matter of priority, or --dare I say-- preference.
I think 'Internet Explorer' is a very good name. It is so good that people fondly refer to it as 'Internet'. And therein lies our problem.
What I also think is that there is a lot of cognitive disonance involved as far as the dot org organization is concerned. Faced time and again with names that are so hard to think up, they are so uncommon and rough, many people cannot really admit that they would prefer something else; and hence the existence of that phenomenon. Which proves, if nothing else, that people are fond of their browser, and would support it even if it had the most awkward and unpronounceable name on earth.
In this business, anything goes. One of the most stylish companies bears the name not far removed from a tomato. What a world...
Although opera is a very general thing, because there are many kinds of it, I do think that an association with it is positive no matter how you look at it. On the other hand, I think that some of my friends who aren't fond of opera like I am approach it with a sort of double-prejudice. One of the geekie browser and one which associates it with this music style they hate. I liked Phoenix better, but I do think Firefox is better than Firebird. For now people around me are referring to Fox, which is already much better than Firebird to which they hardly referred at all, except for the fact that most people liked Phoenix better.
What's in a name? As long as it doesn't mean weird things in other languages and it hasn't got any subjective associations for people, it can't be a bad name.
I mean, who cares if a browser is named like a "bird" (altough it isn't a bird) or a fox. When it sounds well, it's usable.
I think the name should reflect somewhat what the application does, but Internet Explorer is in my humble opinion, just dull. It has no spark or fizz about it. It's more of an action than a name.
Google, on the other hand, is a brilliant name which has evolved into an action. I doubt anyone will ever think of browsing the web as "Firefox"-ing it, but if you say:
I Googled for Tomato Juice, everyone knows what you're talking about.
The name can actually be the success or failure of a project, but that's only if it's amazingly good or utterly terrible. I don't think Firebird is a good name for either a web browser or a database, hence I find it difficult to understand that two separate projects managed to pick the same name, independently of each other. I like Firefox, though.