The other day I posted a piece on Mozilla's user adoption and retention data based on Mozilla's own figures. Asa Dotzler, Director of Community Development at Mozilla Corp., doesn't like the fact that I used the word "poor" in my headline to describe the retention rate:
The Mozilla community is engaged in a discussion around user adoption and retention that's been picked up by some in the tech media with headlines and articles suggesting that Mozilla's roughly 25% adoption/retention number is shockingly bad.
I wonder what they're comparing it to. Do any of you all know of any other software organization that offers software for download and publishes information about the number of downloads they get, the number of people who actually install the software, and the number of people that continue using it for a month or a year?
Do Adrian and Larry at ZDNet have something to compare Mozilla's stats to? I'm assuming that they do since they feel confident calling Mozilla's adoption and retention rates "shocking" and "poor".
Interesting point. Why did I use the word "poor?" Well, let me go through the thought processes that lead me to use the word poor. Here's the phrase that's on the Mozilla retention page caught my eye:
Currently, approximately 50% of the people who download Firefox actually try it and about 50% of those people continue to use it actively.
So if "approximately 50%" of people who voluntarily download Firefox go on to try it, that means that another "approximately 50%" never get as far as trying it out. Based on nothing but those numbers, that sounds to me like Mozilla are losing a lot of people at some stage between the download page and them completing the install process. But then there's another "about 50%" drop off in users when comparing those that try out Firefox and those that continue to use it actively.
To me, the idea of losing 75% of your potential users between download of the install files and becoming regular users sounds like a lot to me. Does it class as poor? Well, I can tell you that it was the context in which the numbers were presented to me that gave me that impression. The Mozilla retention page describes the "challenges" that Mozilla face and how the drop-off of users "presents an incredible opportunity." Quotes on JT Batson's blog (who is on the Mozilla marketing team) also talked about how the "data shows that a very high percentage of those people [who download Firefox] do not become long term, active Firefox users" and how there's a need to "figure out how we overcome the default behavior of 'clicking on the blue e'" and how this "is not just a marketing challenge." One idea posed in that blog post goes on to suggest having a "Window that pops up if you haven’t used Fx in a while" (a very bad idea if you ask me). The overall impression that Mozilla is giving me as the reader is that there's a problem with user retention. If that's true, then it's a good thing that the organization can see it, admit to it and try to fix the problem. If retention isn't a problem, then I'm sorry I got the wrong impression.
It's hard to pull up any meaningful stats on other applications to compare Mozilla's figures to, but I guess all that can be said is that Internet Explorer's retention rate seems higher than that of Mozilla's. However, just from reading around this issue it seems that the Mozilla team are getting a lot of good feedback on how to improve retention rates, so I'm certain that the numbers will improve (or grow, get better, increase, whatever sounds best) over the coming months.