More thoughts on Mozilla adoption and retention numbers

More thoughts on Mozilla adoption and retention numbers

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Browser

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.


Topic: Browser

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  • Still wondering abou tthe 50%

    I have scratched my head trying to figure out why 1/2 the people who download never even try it. Is there a cool game out there that says download executables to the desktop then delete them? What is causing 1 in 2 people to download but then lose the energy for that double click?

    Fix that problem and you are set since 50% who try it use it.

    • Still thinking it's the passenger downloads...

      ... in which people obtaining an application, and not just games, also receive a copy of the FireFox installer unless they opt out. Given the acceptance of spyware, many people apparently will agree to download, even auto-install anything to make the pre-download pages go away.

      If FireFox wanted to take a lesson from spyware, the company could make installation of the browser part of the process by which the other application is installed.

      That would eliminate much of the 50%, I expect. And FireFox is mostly harmless, and can be Removed with ease. Millions have done so, more than have kept the software. I don't think such an arrangement would be grounds for criticism.
      Anton Philidor
      • You mean ...

        ... like the Yahoo toolbar bundled with Adobe Reader asnd that sort of thing ... Hmmm, given that Firefox = $$$ for Mozilla, I thinkl that the parallels with spyware-like behavior would tarnish their image of security.

        Anyone else with comment on this?
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        • I agree completely.

          If Mozilla were to use spyware tactics to get people to use their browser, I know that I would stop using it, and move to something like Opera.
    • Spot on ...

      ... if Mozilla could reduce that 50% drop off to say 25%, that would mean a heck of a lot more Firefox users out there.

      I can't get my head around that 50% number either. The only think that springs to mind is that there are a lot of naive people out there who download an app but then can't or don't know how to install it.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Clicking twice isn't difficult

        The only thing that springs to mind is that there are a lot of naive people out there who download an app but then can't or don't know how to install it.

        That seems unlikely, particularly when people have accepted download of the install program.

        That's part of the reason I think that half the time FireFox is downloaded without the intent to install.
        Anton Philidor
      • Where is it downloaded to?

        Maybe that is part of the problem. Is there a default somewhere where it gets downloaded not to the desktop and instead to MyDownloads or something and the people never find it?

        I still think Mozilla needs to get into the spirit of self promotion once it is installed. People don't know what all it can do, and base install is all it will be unless they know. What about a dedicated "Skin Browser" button. Instead of under "Tools -->Add-ons" why not an "Extra's button".

        • People have learned...

          ... not to check a block so that they can start the install without having to locate the install file.

          It's a question whether FireFox should tout its extras. IE has most of the market and is necessarily FireFox's model. Users may be expected to evaluate FireFox on its similarity to IE's appearance and performance. Additional features which require attention to options may be considered excessive interaction with the software.

          I admit, though, that the preference for simplicity which leads me to turn off basic features even in IE may influence my view of how users would respond to the browser advertising unexpected features every few seconds.
          Anton Philidor
      • How about

        those who downnload it, then move it to a server or network share for install on other systems? Still, 50% seems high.

        Also, how do they differentiate betwen those who download it originally or as an update (since minor revisions require a full download of the app)?
        Real World
      • Corporate users?

        Perhaps some of the numbers could be coming from people on networks locked down so tight by the corporate admin that they can't install it once they've downloaded it. That could be a sizable chunk of the 50%. The rest may just be morons. Gotta think in terms of the lowest common denominator.
        Dr. John
        • WINdoze IT types

          *people on networks locked down so tight by the corporate admin that they can't install it once they've downloaded it*
          That is very true, I had to ask our IT group if I could install it as my browser at work and prove why I wanted it over IE, even tho some of the IT folks use it at home, its the WINdoze IT type that don't want one to download it.
    • You have to realize. Security or tools is not sexy.

      Some things in life do not have to be advertised because interest in them is hardwired in the human DNA. Firefox is not one of them. Perhaps a naked mermaid instead of a seamonkey or a pelt wrapped around the world for a splash screen. Yea, you and I know that your double click blame was lame. People double click on vises all day long and even go out of their way to do so.

      I have a Fairbanks flex plate on my turbo hydromatic 350. People go, "WHAT"? Motorheads give me the thumbs up. Tools only interest us shop folks that pertain to it, and the mob only injures themselves on them. There has to be other selling points besides stressing security or some other boring thingy. We like and use tools, they just use them.
    • Bots downloading?

      Could it be as simple as somebody running bots to download FF so the numbers get boosted?
  • Still working on that "language" thing?

    In a statement trying to regain your credibility, you made the same mistake AGAIN.

    Asa Dotzler wonders how you reach the conclusion of retention being 'poor'. Yet you state she doesn't LIKE your statement.

    Where do you _get_ those impressions?

    Once again you are mixing up opinions and facts.
    • Gender change, anyone?

      'She' should'a'been a 'he', of course

      Too bad I can't edit messages.
  • Gee, I got Outlook, Access, Publisher, Frontpage and Visio with my

    Office 2003 CD set, in addition to the other Office Apps. Of these I only installed Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Visio. I tried these and found that Visio is a poor graphics and diagram tool, so I don't use it. Outlook is just too vulnerable as it relies on the dreaded MS HTML rendering of IE for preview panes of HTML messages. I hve other software forscheduling and calendars and such, so I don't use Outlook either and chose Thunderbird instead. I do use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

    So out of 8 of MS's premium apps, I installed only 5 and use 3 of these. This seem to be only marginally better than the adoption rate of Mozilla but across several MS apps. I would wonder what the adoption rate of something like Publisher is for those that bought it or got it with an Office bundle. What do you think?
    • Hmmm - something is not right here...

      ... since Front Page and Visio are not a part of any Office 2003 Suite SKU - so what kind of bundle did you get that included these 2 application?

      Just curious...
      Confused by religion
      • It is right

        All 20,000 of us where I work have that same bundle. I've never even opened Front Page or Visio.
        • FP and/or Visio is not the same as a web browser

          Most people use a web browser nowadays, but authoring webpages or creating diagrams is not something everyone does, so it's less of a problem for MS
          • So what?

            We're talking about product/application retention not just browsers. We're talking about product adoption whether free or paid for.

            Other than Mozilla products, I have no free software for my XP Pro laptop. Other than MS products, I have no software that I bought and didn't use or didn't install.