Why Firefox WILL survive

Why Firefox WILL survive

Summary: Yesterday I spent much of the day caught up in Firefox 4 related news. Then, somewhere between the 1 million and 3 million download mark, a funny thing happened. I saw a story pop up in my RSS feed timeline with an interesting headline: Why Internet Explorer will survive and Firefox won't. Is Firefox toast? Does anyone care?

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TOPICS: Browser
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Yesterday I spent much of the day caught up in Firefox 4 related news. The long-awaited browser was out, and it quickly hit the 1 million downloads mark less than three hours after the official release. It was a big day for Mozilla, and it was generating a lot of Firefox related news.

Then, somewhere between the 1 million and 3 million download mark, a funny thing happened. I saw a story pop up in my RSS feed timeline with an interesting headline: Why Internet Explorer will survive and Firefox won't. Initially I dismissed the article, but the second time it rolled past my eyes I noticed that it had been written by my colleague Ed Bott which came as a surprise to me. It's fair to say that Ed and I disagree on a lot of things, and even when he's disagreeing with me directly, I find Ed's arguments to be pretty well constructed if nothing else. Now, I wouldn't go as far as to suggest that Ed's article yesterday was headline trolling (as Mozilla's Director of Web Platform Chris Blizzard did), but I do think that it does contain errors (as pointed out by Mozilla VP Mike Shaver) and that it hilariously misses a key point (as noted by Mozilla's Director of Firefox Mike Beltzner).

The reason that leads Ed to believe that Internet Explorer will survive and Firefox won't (a point he doesn't get to until the second to last paragraph in his post) is web apps.

So where does that leave Firefox? It doesn’t have an app ecosystem or a loyal core of developers. Extensions? Those were worth bragging about in 2005, but in 2012 the story is apps. Businesses and consumers will want to use the same browser that powers their installed apps. In the PC space, that means Google or Microsoft. It doesn’t leave room for a third player.

But Mozilla does have a plan for web applications. It's right there in the Firefox roadmap, and Mozilla even has a page for web on Mozilla Labs for apps. Mozilla is planning on releasing Firefox 5, 6 and 7 before the end of the year, and web applications are again right there in the roadmap for Firefox 6 (along with a feature called FasterCache, OS X 10.7 'Lion' support and JavaScript optimizations). Support is embryonic, but to say that it's not there is grossly inaccurate.

So web apps are on the way.

But I'm not convinced that web apps are all that critical to the survival of Firefox. Web apps is only a small part of what people want from a browser. Speed, security, stability and ease of use are also important.

Something else that is also important to people is access to the latest web browser. Microsoft has decided that those running XP will not have access to Internet Explorer 9 and instead are stuck with IE8, or will have to look to other browsers ... Opera, Safari, Chrome or Firefox.

By preventing XP users from having access to the latest Internet Explorer, Microsoft is actually pushing users to other browser ... including Firefox. This means that no matter how good IE9 is, if XP users want a better browsing experience, they will have to look elsewhere. Some 55% of web browsing of web browsing is done using Windows XP, so that means that Microsoft has left an enormous number of users out in the cold. While Firefox usage stats have stagnated over the past year at around the 22% mark, but it should be remember that this still translates into some 400 million users. I expect that excluding XP users from Internet Explorer 9 will benefit Firefox and the other browser players.

Just as there's room for more than two players in on the desktop or on mobile devices, there's room for more than two players when it comes to browsers.

Firefox isn't going anywhere.

Topic: Browser

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124 comments
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  • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

    Agreed with you fren
    mnazhaf
    • Even Opera did not go anywhere, though always had small marketshare

      @mnazhaf
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @denisrs

        Opera had other structural problems. Sometimes they had a pay model, sometimes not, sometimes this, sometimes that. Firefox is straightforward. Mozilla is a not for profit. It will always be free.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @denisrs

        Opera is just one example why relatively great browser can't get much users coz it's interface is not easy enough. Norwegians have really tried their best but the great thing is missing. Besides - i don't believe in proprietary software. That's why i use Linux, FF and Chromium (not Chrome).
        Matsi66
    • Firefox survives on two things

      #1 Google's financial live support.
      #2 Solid add-on system & spell checking.

      XP is really a non-factor. If IE takes care of the #2 then Firefox is about to be over.
      LBiege
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @LBiege

        I agree. My favorite feature of FF is the spell check. I think that is why I use it as my primary browser for places like this or forum type sites and use IE for most everything else.

        Anyone know of a way you can add similar spell check functionality into IE?
        bobiroc
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @LBiege

        While a substantial portion of Firefox's revenue is based on Google royalties, they by no means are in dire straights in direct competition with Google.

        The reality is that Firefox is a creative commons project from a not for profit. Firefox's operational cost is less than Wikipedia. All of Mozilla operates on something like 10% of what Microsoft throws at MARKETING for IE. Firefox is only a part(albeit likely the larget part) of that, and Mozilla currently spends something like 5-10% of what they do take in on community GRANTS. Firefox will never die if for no other reason than it takes relatively so little to sustain. It would be like trying to kill mushrooms by blocking sunlight.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @LBiege

        Microsoft have never managed to create really creaty browser. Besides that ActiveX-nightmare will stay there until the day of Harmageddon. Believe me - Windows was never made for internet world. It's just stand-alone-computer OS. And IE is a nightmare partner of Windows.
        Matsi66
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @LBiege , do you REALLY think spell checking in a web browser is an essential feature ??
        That is the kind of thing i always uncheck from install options
        sandalin
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @LBiege
        When 55% of the market is not allowed to use your best product but can get a better free product that works with the os people still love then yeah its a huge problem not sure what kind of business background you have but if you build a good car with good tires but will not sell to people who want to finace only cash those left out go elsewhere and if Firefox says we will finance everyone then you lost a ton of potential customers huge problem.
        Fletchguy
      • Others don't have spell check?

        @LBiege I've played a bit with other browsers, but use FF so much, I didn't even know that other browsers don't have spell checking.
        kidtree
      • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

        @LBiege really? You think XP is non factor. You are naive to think so. I am a contractor and I can tell you that some companies such ATT, BofA and so forth are still running XPs at their support centers and these are in the 100s of millions of insttalled base across the country and they are using web browsers for their online apps to support their customers. Microsoft just made a critical gamble. They thought people will just abandon XP for IE 9. What a myopic oversight.
        nacoll007
      • Right about XP

        @LBiege

        The 55% of users figure is somewhat deceptive. Outside of China and India the XP user base is much smaller and rapidly declining. A user base that is resistant to change is not the primary interest of those developing browsers and web applications.
        Lester Young
  • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

    Common sense words, I think Ed is talking out of his surname.<br><br>He waffles on about HTML5/windows shell integration with IE and we all know too well MS's ability to create route one for OS hacks with this type of approach.
    Alan Smithie
  • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

    Firefox will survive for the extensions alone. That and the fact that it is not made by Google.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

      @Loverock Davidson
      But was funded by them for a time - don't forget your roots Davidson...
      rikasa
    • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

      @Loverock Davidson
      ?Stupidty has no limits?.
      Please only take this into consideration if you think it applies to yourself.
      Otherwise please go on and read ?How to make friends and influence people?.
      scoobbs@...
    • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

      @Loverock Davidson

      But all my favorite add-on's don't work in 4.0
      LP212
  • Um... IPv6 defeats your argument

    The IPv4 address space will run out in the next 12 to 15 months. After a time, as IPv6 services are rolled out, those services will be unreachable by computer systems without an IPv6 stack. And you can place Windows XP into that category.<br><br>I don't agree with Ed Bott but I don't buy that Windows XP will save Firefox. Firefox will survive but longer term XP will not be part of the equation due to its lack of an IPv6 stack. This means lazy consumers and businesses will have no choice but to jettison that dated OS.<br><br>-M
    betelgeuse68
    • RE: Why Firefox WILL survive

      @betelgeuse68
      <i>This means lazy consumers and businesses will have no choice but to jettison that dated OS.</i>
      But how many will stick with Microsoft?s offerings, and how many will move on to a more modern OS?
      Rick_K