Has Firefox Peaked?

It was exactly five years ago Monday that Mozilla released version 1.0 of its open source Firefox Web browser, and fans around the globe marked the occasion with a multitude of special events held as part of the “Light the World with Firefox” campaign.
Celebration ideas were plentiful at the Spread Firefox Web site, while photos of the results were available on Flickr. A Mozilla-sponsored contest, meanwhile, invites Firefox fans to design a celebratory poster image.

With 330 Million Users Firefox rose from the ashed of Netscape with a lot of emotional attachments. The security features of IE were a great concern for enterprises and Firefox proved to be a better browser in terms of video streaming as well.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, currently the market leader, holds 64.64 percent, while Safari, Chrome and Opera hold the next three spots with 4.42, 3.58 and 2.17 percent, respectively, according to Net Applications’ October data.
Indeed, Firefox’s market share is a testament to the magnitude of its achievements over the past five years.
Whether Firefox streaked into prominence as a Web browser on its own merits or because it was the likeliest alternative to a problem-ridden Internet Explorer is debatable. What seems clear as the open source browser turns five, however, is that Firefox is unlikely to make further headway among IE users on the security argument alone. So, what’s next for Firefox?
Reference: http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/68599.html?wlc=1258366018


  • Firefox is clearly a better choice than IE…
    It’s faster, has better security features and has a better interface…
    I’ll keep using it and won’t worry about it peaking…

  • A browser is basically a doorway. If it does its job well, it does not need to get better and better.
    Market share is not always a measure of quality, as is demonstrated by IE.

  • I think Firefax will remain a leader in the browser market. It does one thing really well: adhere to W3C standards better than most other browsers, while providing a stable and secure user experience. No other browser has done that consistently over time.
    IE has had a rough childhood, and was the villain of the neighborhood during its teenage years. Now, finally growing up a bit, it can’t seem to completely shake the bad attitude of its earlier years and still shows quirks of rebellion and independence.
    Firefox was raised in a proper family, had responsible parenting, and everyone came over to play with him. He had a very well defined sense of security and confidence, even though – or maybe because – he was pampered less than IE. He grew up as a responsible teenager, and is now also taking his responsibilities seriously coming into adulthood.
    Now, for Chrome, he is that new kid on the block, just moved in from out-of-town, and is showing off a lot, trying to fit in. The other kids aren’t sure what to make of him just yet, and keep a wary eye on him. He seems to always have the latest gadgets, and gets the most chick-appeal, but under the surface, he is a bit insecure, and tends to make up with it a bit with his ego. While generally well-bahved, he seems a bit flashy. Let’s see how he turns out when he grows up.
    Opera, unfortunately, is the little orphan child that everyone forgot about. While very sweet and appealing, she is also shy and doesn’t like to mingle. She is more reserved, and tends to keep to herself. She is very well-mannered, and responsible, and does things with the best of intentions. Lets hope she gains some more confidence in the coming years and speaks up for herself some more.
    Safary has always been the cool, understated kid. He never had to compete for recognition. It just seemed that he had all the street creds for some reason – noone really knew why. Coming out of his teens now, He’s very mature and intelligent young adult. He appears to be destined for a good career, if he doesn’t screw things up. Let’s hope he fairs well in college!

  • The “security argument alone” is a mighty compelling reason to go with FF, IMHO. If you’re worried about drive-by exploits, that’s certainly reason enough to stay away from IE.
    FF is clearly ahead of the curve and will probably remain so for quite some time. The recently released IE8 has many of the features that have been available to FF users for years. If one wants to use current technology, why use an old technology browser?
    But another important benefit in FF is the availability of hundreds of handy and useful add-ons that aren’t available with IE.

  • I feel Firefox has maybe levelled out in terms of take up. Growth in use is great but will always be stunted for a reasons such as less-computer savvy users using built-as-standard configs.
    Other browsers are filling gaps that Firefox should be exploiting:
    For example, Opera has been around and available for Windows/Linux and was the first I saw with window tabs. It covers the bases with respect to embedded devices (phones and games consoles internet access).
    Chrome is upcoming and ticks many security and speed boxes so this is a growing youngster that will take a seat beside the Chrome OS to offer the whole google-experience.
    Firefox suffers from a lack of marketing. It is not seen as emerging/growing/improving. We know it is improving but it’s rather understated. Microsoft always puts up fireworks when it releases a newer IE with additional whistles, Chrome is emerging and is making promises, Opera is also understated but is lightweight, hence you see it in mobile devices etc.
    Having a good/great product isn’t enough from experience. You have to sell it. I work for a large computer company who lead the way with patents, products & technology (Sun Micro.) but am frustrated by the technology being undersold……

  • I was usinf FF, but I wanted to check the alternatives I ruled out IE for obvious reasons, so I tried Chrome and Safari, but eventually I went back to Firefox.
    I can’t make any forecast because the field has become very competitive now, but it’s still ahead of the others

  • Internet Explorer became the dominant browser edging out Netscape and others as it came bundled with the Windows OS which gave rise to anti trust issues. It however had a number of security issues as malware writers identified numerous loopholes in IE and exploited it with drive by downloads and ActiveX downloads from unsafe sites faster than Microsoft could patch the loopholes.
    Firefox provided a good and safer alternative and became quickly popular for this reason.
    Currently Google Chrome is also a good browser but has certain issues that need to be worked out. While it provides a faster browsing experience, it has issues with Java powered sites and applets. Also Firefox can open a file from a site on the fly whereas on Chrome you need to download and save it to your local hard drive before you can open it which you may not want to do for security and other issues.

  • Hi Ali,
    I have read an interesting article posted by Zack Whittaker “Mozilla Labs UX chief: What’s next for Mozilla, Firefox and the Web”
    The Link Below
    Make Ur Day A Gooood Oneeee

  • There are a number of architectural challenges to firefox that were introduced by Chrome. IE has taken notice and are moving to meet those challenges. Firefox lost big when both google and apple snubbed them in favor of kthml/webkit.
    The point is, the browser as we know it is becoming irrelevant, what will matter is using the browser for application delivery. I do not see much direction or comprehension from the Firefox team that indicates they will ever be anything more than just a browser. I hope I’m wrong.

  • personally i would keep using Firefox, at first you saw some compatibility issues with websites but now it’s been solved.
    i actually wish windows offered to uninstall internet explorer, the simple fact that it’s present makes the computer feel uncomfortable ( not me! )
    i also tried Opera ( not all that! ) Safari ( never tried it ), BUT i also tried a little browser called K-meleon pretty light weight and pretty fast.
    but then again, at the end of the day it’s all about you and you feel comfy using, and you always have to keep your options open!

  • Here is an article I wrote that discusses Browser market share and why statistics may be skewed. Also, I think a question that needs to be addressed is what is keeping other browsers from taking over the IE market. One reason we continue to use IE where I work, is the fact that there is no free tool (that I know of) that provides for automated patch deployment and reporting for Firefox.

  • Mobile and HTML5 are the future of browsers. In this arena Opera dominates with Safari second and Firefox next and MS will nary make a double-digit blip in mobile OSes or Browsers, which is Internet 2.0. The only reason MS has 64% is because of a monopoly position and product bundling, not due to a superior product. But then, you knew that right? We all do. Cheers. Walls.

  • Firefox Version 3.5 is still superior to Internet Explorer 8.0. Microsoft continues to play catch-up in the browser space. Yes, IE has a larger installed base, but remember it comes bundled with Windows. It is a testament to the quality (and security) of Firefox that users choose to be Firefox users even though IE is already on their computers. So long as Firefox continues to raise the browser bar, it has not peaked.

  • Well that is pretty good for fighting against a pre-installed piece of software, and thus it probably has peaked. Besides, Microsoft just takes any software’s best features and copies them….why change the business model that led to their success….

  • I’d guess FF’s early success was for the techos who didn’t like IE and wanted something after Netscape… but they made it more secure and (with the plugins) more powerful and even more usable (something very few beat MS on)
    While the last couple of IE versions have improved significantly, it still has a way to go to catch Firefox for usability.
    Chrome, while faster and possibly more secure, lacks the plugins many of us have become to depend on.
    Firefox 3.6 beta seems to have improved performance… and 4.0 is expected to surpass that again.
    I just had a look at Google Analytics for my main site and blog… over about 5000 hits on both in the past month:
    IE 52 and 53
    FF 36 and 35
    Chrome 6 and 6
    Then: Safari, Opera, Mozilla
    Others: Blazer, Camino, Konqueror, SeaMonkey, Samsung, Blackberry
    The figures above are % for main site ( http://www.GLComputing.com.au ) and Blog ( http://Blog.GLComputing.com.au ) respectively.
    Interesting that they were so similar
    BTW: Another couple of thoughts on why IE can’t wipe the market as easily
    1. The European Union regulation forcing MS to allow it to be removed – wonder how the figures work for EU?
    2. Apple, Linux and even phone access – although relatively small, are growing
    The biggest issue I see is when some sites display differently in different browsers (IE not following standards) or worse, not at all in some browsers. At least there is IETab for FF when you need it.

  • I believe it may take some more share from IE but overall I expect webkit based browsers(Chrome and Safari) to grow the most in 2010 and after. This is due to the fact that a lot of popular mobile devices(iPhones, Android phones, Palm Pre and future blackberries) come with webkit browsers pre-installed. I think the most growth will be in mobile web browsing. I think firefox will still keep a strong share on desktops and laptops but as far as growth they are about to top out.

  • Firefox has not peaked yet. First, even though Chrome and Safari are hot right now, they do not have the extensions (particularly for developers) that Firefox has. Firebug and the Web Developer toolbar are browser app-killers.
    I think we will see a divergence where users will use the best tool for whatever they are doing at the moment (at least among developers). As for the average user, I am still continually converting my clients to Firefox. Many many people just don’t realize there is an alternative out there – they plug in their computer and see that little “e” on the desktop and assume that’s it.
    While Chrome is sexy, it’s too new and lacks too many features for me to offer it to those less savvy. And frankly, it’s too minimalist. One of the things that helps me convert others to Firefox is the rich extension base. Chrome doesn’t have that either.
    So no, Firefox hasn’t peaked yet and isn’t likely to for some time. IE is going to continue to lose share among the other browsers regardless and considering the amount of competition in the market right now, just keeping the market share it has is equivalent to gaining.
    But hindsight is 20/20, so I guess we will see?

  • Yes. It’s gotten too thick. And it’s hard to make apps thin again — especially open source.
    Sorry, fans. I admire your passion.

  • In some ways Firefox has certainly leveled out. There really wasn’t much difference between FF2 & 3 to really even be called a new version. This is often a sign that they are just trying to keep fresh and in front of their end users.
    While I am an avid Firefox user, I must say it is becoming a bit bloated and a resource hog at that. Slimming the application back down and optimizing the pipelining for broadband by default would certainly get it back in my good graces.
    While I reside mainly in firefox for developing, the market share is still in IE (unfortunately versions 6 thru 8) and I must design all my sites accordingly. In order for Firefox to keep growing in market share, Mozilla must establish OEM config in retail machines or IE will always remain the top dog. Of course Microsoft isn’t going to lay low nor volunteer for an OEM Firefox userbase so Mozilla will need to pick the fight and get the ball rolling.

  • W3Schools provides different statistics, I think because the site’s audience tends to be geekier than average:
    2009 IE8 IE7 IE6 Firefox Chrome Safari Opera
    October 12.8% 14.1% 10.6% 47.5% 8.0% 3.8% 2.3%
    As a web developer, I use Firefox as my primary browser, because of the rapid development tools available (Firebug, Web Developer, Colorzilla, MeasureIt etc). I still need to check in IE8/7/6 and the other browsers…
    I often wish that IE6 would just go away, but that will not happen until the computers using it become obsolete.
    The browser wars have been around for a long time, we developers need to be accomodating. I remember of 1997, when IE3 had better JavaScript support than NS2 (Netscape did not support Math.Random() so we had to write out own pseudo-random routines). After Netscape 3 was released, with better standards compliance than IE3, a concerted effort was made by many developers to encourage users to switch from IE, with some but not universal success.

  • It didn’t Peak. It just doesn’t exactly measure up to Chrome.

  • I used to love Firefox … now, it’s kind of … a inner struggle to work properly

  • Maybe not peaked, but it’s at the mercy of Google. When Google want to pull the plug, they’ll pull the plug (well maybe after November 2011)

  • For the end user, the decision is a lot harder than it was a few years ago, with IE8 closing the gap significantly with FF. However I think Chrome has the potential to take the lion share of non-IE market in the next few years. FF’s biggest strength these days is the wealth of plug-ins. As soon as they start appearing in Chrome then the loyal FF developer community will begin to switch. And I’m sure Google, if they wished, could produce a set of FF compatible API within Chrome.

  • As long as IE continues to use ActiveX and the security problems that accompany it, I will continue to use Firefox for all my browsing needs. IE 7 and 8 are big improvements over the huge pile of dung that was IE 6 for sure, but they still doesn’t measure up to Firefox IMO.

  • I have been using Firefox for the past year. Yes, it is all those things that you have mentioned in your statement above … they are the very attributes that I like in a browser. In terms of peaking, for me it depends on the direction of the industry. It appears that when technology reaches the end of the road and you think there is nothing else to achieve, there is this creative and innovative person out there to prove you wrong. Everything can be improved upon if you are listening to the voices of the users; and when you ask the users what would they like to see next. By getting the users responses encourages creative thinking by the programmers. If those responses are valued someone within the industry (Firefox) will be looking to make those interest a reality. Everything is time relative.
    However, there is one attribute that I would like to see Firefox correct. All webpages are not viewed the same depending on the interface used. For example, I created my website using Frontpage and when viewed in IE and Netscape it looks like I want it to look. However, when I view my website in Firefox the view is not the same. For this I’m still hoping that people are using IE or Netscape so my page is viewed as intended. I don’t know the workaround for Firefox therefore I can not fix so that it looks the same in other internet browser applications. And, I have not been able to find a place to submit a comment for changes in Firefox.
    So for me all things can be improved in this process but you still need to get feedback from the users to come up with better ideas and suggestions. And, yes, I still use Firefox as my main browser because I feel the security is better than IE at this point. Plus I like having multiple website open at the same time and I like the way it keep them in memory is and when it crashes too.

  • IE will always be the most used browser because it’s bundled with all Microsoft OS’s. Is it the best, no. I prefer FF just for the better security. The speed is a bonus. Then , anything MS is going to have a big bulls eye for hackers simply because it’s MS.

  • As a few other responders said, Firefox has a marketing problem. I am always amazed when I introduce a new user to Firefox – they often say things like “I never heard of this” or “I wish I had known about Firefox years ago”. If Firefox could get the word out to more users, they could capture more market share. Because it is open source and there are so many add-ons and extensions, they could ride the iPhone’s coat tails a bit – because you name it, and there is probably a Firefox “app” for it.
    Check out the recent blog article below for 10 Firefox extensions that enhance browsing security.

  • I think you have seen a maturity of the browser environment for now. Until someone comes out with a radical alternative, Firefox and other browsers will be flat. Where I see growth is in mobile browsers, which the IE, Safari, etc market share is different than desktop. Another radial change a brewing is Chrome the operating system. If some folks migrate in that direction, Chrome will gain, but probably at the expense of IE, not Firefox. Athough I think that marketing is important, the growth of browsers are tied to the operating systems they come with, because most users do no bother with alternatives to what comes native on their machines. The only place where Firefox shines with installed OSs are the Linux based desktops. Personally, I love Firefox. Not only because of the security, but because I deal with Mac OS, Windows, and Linux desktops. I can have the same browser for all, keeping the extensions and bookmarks all the same. It is a great browser.

  • Fire Fox is an excellent browser on both the Mac and the Windows platforms. I’ve been using it since version 1.0 in both corporate and non-corporate environments and it does it’s job extremely well – even at the initial release. With each release it continues to develop nicely, but I don’t think there is an actual ‘real-world’ improvement in the software itself – it just gets easier to use and slicker.
    I also use Safari as well and that’s an excellent browser, extremely quick in browsing, very nice user interface 😉 Its just a shame that a few sites don’t work exactly right.
    In addition, I am user of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and it has it’s issues, but its still a browser with the best support for sites and web applications – this is because the majority of sites and applications have been written to work with it. This is purely down to the market share that Internet Explorer has.
    As for the market share item, Internet Explorer holds the biggest market share due to the fact Microsoft Windows has the largest install base of any operating system and it includes Internet Explorer and most users don’t bother looking at anything else.

  • I use both browsers IE8/ Firefox 3.5. Also use chrome for test purpose.
    1. In my opinion still IE8 the best choice for networking.
    2. For web designer is the Firefox 3.5 is better choice.
    3. And chrome is the best to share some file with your friends etc.
    Once again, still your own choice to decide which browser to find suitable for you to use.
    My choice is the best browser (in general) still the IE8 the number one browser.
    Check this link for test and analyses.
    Best regards
    Khaled Ramo

  • As a devoted Firefox fan, I’d have to say that you are probably right. Firefox has seen more and more bloat over the years. Ask any Firefox user which process is using the most memory on their machine and most will say ‘firefox.exe’. In the day and age of complex web applications that demand more and more memory, it’s not cool for Firefox to be using most of the system resources. I think people will continue to find alternatives. Chrome is a solid browser right now.
    Internet Explorer will always dominate the browser market. It’s included in every Windows install. Many consumers don’t even know what a browser is. They just know that you click the blue ‘e’ to go online. It’s a shame.

  • I agree with allot that is being said about Firefox and its stance as a very capable browser. That being said, I think that the one thing that holds Firefox back is its constant progress forward while forgetting about the problems in it’s wake. Case in point, it’s constant memory management issues/leaks. Just a quick search on google reveals tons of links about it. This issue really bothers me in particular because it is such a long standing issue across most platforms it runs on. Plugins can be another sore point but such is the way of open source and community driven projects (NOT KNOCKING THE COMMUNITY; just pointing out the obvious that without funding its sometimes hard to get speedy fixes).
    Now with Chrome out and getting better and better (not to mention with Google behind it), I think this might offer Mozilla the drive it needs. So do I think Firefox has peaked? No, probably not, but do I think that its innovation could stand to take the back seat for awhile while it gets a polish? Yes, and in that aspect, Firefox has a long way to go before peaking.

  • I strongly doubt Firefox’s growth will peak anytime soon. They’ve got enough functionality, defence, and features up already: now all they have to do is make it more efficient!
    I’m actually serious. If they up the performance to match Opera (which I personally doubt, but lets say they’ll get close), I think the browser’s use will skyrocket again.

  • First of all, market share figures are notoriously difficult to pin down. Do you count pre-installed? Free software? Purchased software? What if a user switches among several browsers for different reasons? Keep in mind that many of the survey takers are “self selected” groups who tend to be “more techie” or even “nerdier”, and more likely to use something other than IE. If you could engage Gallup or Roper to do a statistically valid random poll among the entire population, using the same techniques they use for predicting political races, I bet you’d see an even higher percentage for IE.
    Does this mean that IE is technically superior? Hell, no. What it would show is that most computer users are content to use what came bundled with the machine. They may not even realize the OS is Windows, or what version, or even that “the innernet thing” has a brand name! They didn’t /choose/ to use IE… it came with the machine and does the job well enough for them, and so they don’t bother to go looking at Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc. (even if they’ve heard of them). Even if they suffer severe pain from using IE, many aren’t even aware that there are alternatives to it, much less that they can muster the technical chops to download and install the thing. I suspect that much the same would hold true for Safari users on Mac.
    Of the entire PC user population, I’ll bet that only a small fraction have patched their OS or run anti-virus or anti-spyware utilities. For most people, it’s an appliance, and a maintenance-free one at that. They’ll run it until it dies or until they buy a new game that won’t run on it. Their new computer will come preloaded with Windows and IE, and that’s what they’ll use. Quick, can you name the brand of radio in the dashboard of your car? If you can, you probably bought it aftermarket and are therefore not a typical car owner.

  • As a web developer, I see a clear advantage with Firefox. The myriad add-ons for the browser make it an excellent choice for web development. Other than that, it’s just an enjoyable browser. I’ve stopped using all versions of IE except when debugging and when having to deal with sites whose developers required IE because of lack of experience with cross-browser support.

  • If Firefox never gets any ‘better’ than it is today, IMHO it will still be light years ahead of IE in terms of stability, bulk and speed.

  • Matthew Leitch

    Recently I upgraded to the new version of FF. The platform seems to be faster than Flock, the browser I was using. I know it is more secure than IE.
    Testing out the new version should be fun because it has more features.
    No crashes yet.
    More later.

  • Brent Jenkins

    There’s one major thing that stops me using Firefox as my main browser; the time it takes from clicking the icon to when it actually starts up!
    As director of a web design company we use many different browsers for development and testing – just because it’s there, IE8 is my browser of choice but we also use Safari 3 and 4, Opera 9 and 10, Firefox 2 and 3.5, IE6, IE7 and Google Chrome (as well as some mobile browsers).
    Out of all of those, I would say that both Safari 4 and Opera 10 are my personal two favourites. Firefox has some great developer plug-ins, but overall it just feels too clunky and as I mentioned, the initial start-up time is unacceptably long compared to others.

  • Michael Greenwood

    Not peaked but obviously taken a larger market share because of it’s oh so true rendering! It’s certainly my web browser of choice and has been for years.

  • Dave Houlbrooke

    I think Chrome will overtake Firefox within 3 years. It has one or two problems right now (applets) but these will undoubtably be ironed out in the next release.
    Firefox is marketed in three ways:
    1) Word of mouth/peer pressure (“you don’t want to be using that Internet Explorer, try Firefox instead”)
    2) A son/nephew/tech guru friend installing it machine without its owner even really noticing.
    3) Linux users.
    All three methods involve ‘advanced users’. Laypeople have no knowledge of Firefox and definitely don’t know how to install it. Many people struggle with the concept of a browser.
    However, nearly everyone has heard of Google. It has incredible brand value on the Internet. Something like 90% of internet users visit Google properties regularly. The little ‘Download Chrome’ links will eventually work, especially when they add in some internet and TV advertising, and especially when a Google site requires Chrome (well, HTML5) to work.
    Firefox/Opera will always retain a small market share of diehard open source types. I think maybe 10-15%.
    Versions of IE combined will always retain a large percentage as long as it is pre-installed on Windows machines and Windows continues to be the dominant OS (which I forsee for at least 5-10 years / 2 futher releases).
    I think Chrome will increase to 30% within 5 years. The increase in market share in will come equally from Firefox and IE users.
    5 year forecast: IE (various versions) 55%, Chrome 30%, Firefox 10%, other 5%.

  • Martin Božič

    I don’t think Firefox peaked yet, more like matured. It has certainly surpassed IE which got it’s act (somewhat) together with IE8. In the beginning it had certainly much more defined goals like, simplicity, speed, standard complicity. It had achieved all those goals by now and the competition is fiercer than ever before in the history of web browsers. IE8 with integration with Windows, Opera with advanced tech and standards complicity, Chrome with speed and Firefox with it’s extensibility I guess. But Mozilla people should ask themselves again where do they want to be in the next 5 years. I guess they are still in a position to have that ability to raise the bar again. For now.

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