Australian interest in Firefox triples

The number of Australians visiting the Firefox open source browser's Web page has tripled over the past year, according to a report from Internet research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.In April 2004, around 73,000 Australians visited the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox Web page.

The number of Australians visiting the Firefox open source browser's Web page has tripled over the past year, according to a report from Internet research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.

In April 2004, around 73,000 Australians visited the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox Web page. Last month that figure had almost reached 220,000 unique visitors, an increase of almost 200 percent.

The March 2005 figure is substantially above November last year, when the site recorded 187,000 unique visitors from Australia who sought information and downloads of the just-released newest version of the browser.

Nielsen claimed 73 percent of the 218,000 unique visitors last month were male.

According to a Nielsen report from November last year, Internet Explorer (IE) remained the defacto-standard for Internet browsers, but Firefox was expected to make a serious challenge over the coming 12 months.

"IE remains the dominant Web browser for Australian Internet surfers, though we expect to see this to be challenged by Mozilla's open source Firefox browser in 2005... The tools and unique means of navigating multiple sites within the FireFox browser have started to find appeal with web surfers," the report said.

In the US, more than 2.6 million people visited the Firefox Web site in March to obtain more information about the open-source software and perhaps download it, up from 2.2 million in January and 1.6 million in February.

Firefox now holds approximately 5 percent of the browser market. The arrival of the browser has coincided with IE's dominant market share dipping below 90 percent.

"Firefox gives Web surfers a simple tool that blocks unsolicited windows, is less susceptible to virus attacks, and offers a unique means of navigating multiple sites within a single browser," Ken Cassar, director of strategic analytics at Nielsen/NetRatings, said in a statement.

The research company also said that Mozilla.org, the Web site of the Mozilla Foundation, which developed Firefox, registered 4.1 million unique visitors in March. That's an increase from 3.4 million in January and 3.1 million in February, and up considerably from 1.1 million in March 2004.

CNET News.com's Dinesh C. Sharma contributed to this report

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