Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

Summary: Mozilla execs weren't kidding when they were talking about a rapid release cycle.The debut of Firefox 5 today, just about three months after the much awaited Firefox 4 was released, testifies to the open source organization's sense of urgency in the face of increased competition from Google and others.

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Mozilla execs weren't kidding when they were talking about a rapid release cycle.

The debut of Firefox 5 today, just about three months after the much awaited Firefox 4 was released, testifies to the open source organization's sense of urgency in the face of increased competition from Google and others.

Download.com: Mozilla Firefox 5

To be fair, Firefox 5 is not as huge an upgrade as version 4 was, and nor should it be. The last major point upgrade took three years to complete. Firefox 3 was made available in the summer of 2008. Firefox 3.5 debuted in June of 2009. Firefox 4 was finished in March of this year.

Version 5.0 does contain significant performance improvements, improved features for development, such as support for CSS animations,  and improved discoverability of important features, such as the Do Not Tracking privacy feature. Mozilla was smart to point out that its latest rev is the only web browser to offer this feature on all platforms, including Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Android.

It is also more secure and stable, as would be expected.

The entry of Google (its key benefactor) into its market with the Chrome browser, and now the full Chrome OS, is no doubt concerning for Firefox's worldwide community of developers, users and backers. The departure of a number of development execs didn't help.

Chrome's share of the browser market has leapfrogged to 12.5, as of May 2011, up from 7.2 percent last July.

There's no doubt Google has stolen some of Firefox's share, and share growth the organization probably  counted on before Google entered the market. But the world hasn't crumbled for Mozilla the way it did for some projects and companies once Google stepped in.  And it likely won't, in part because of the organization's healthy response to competition and  because of its established stature in the market, worldwide support for the browser (one of the most successful open source projects ever) and the need choices in the open source market.

I don't question Firefox's future and survivability. It still has more than 20 percent market share.

But I do question how long Mozilla will remain a free standing open source project with Google as its key benefactor.  I hope it does.  Many corporations can step in and fill Google's funding if necessary.

But is an acquisition in Mozilla's future? We'll see. But in the interim, Mozilla's stepped up development cycle and confident approach to the competition is encouraging.

See also:

Topics: Open Source, Browser, Google

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31 comments
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  • Excellent point

    How soon will Google bleed off its support of Chrome in favor of its own propietary system.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

      @facebook@...

      Chrome exists for Google to put pressure on other browsers to get better. It doesn't really matter for Google how much market share it gets, it just needs to make all the other browsers up their game to make the web more usable.

      Similarly, Google will be perfectly happy to see Firefox's market share grow as Google is the default search engine in it.
      OffsideInVancouver
      • Thats a noble thought

        @OffsideInVancouver
        "Chrome exists for Google to put pressure on other browsers to get better"

        but I dont think any publicly traded company's (Google) CEO will earmark significant human and technical resource out of the company's operating expenditure to build a team like Chrome just push other browsers to be better!!

        If that was the case then they could just continue funding Firefox like they do an call it a day.
        DontBeEvil
      • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

        @OffsideInVancouver I agree. Let's be honest people pit different web mediums against each other but Google just wants you to use the search engine. The biggest threat is iOS with it's own mobile ads and Windows with Bing put into every IE browser. The win in the end. If you are not reading something, you are looking it up so that's what makes them so potent.
        rgor@...
      • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

        @DontBeEvil

        You're mistaken. Otherwise Google wouldn't give the Mozilla organization as well as Opera Software wads of cash to make Google the default search engine.

        OffsideInVancouver's analysis is dead right.
        betelgeuse68
    • Who says Google wan't Firefox to fade away??

      @facebook@... it's in Google's interest to have FF, as Firefox has the agreement to include Google as it's default search engine. <br><br>Here's a heads-up: Firefox is a huge marketing (audience) avenue that Google *wants* - just like any other marketing opportunity / stream. This has (as far as Google is concerned) always been more to do with marketing than browser competition. In fact, this was never, arguably, about competition at all - but actually about <i>brand exposure</i>.<br><br>Show us a business that <i>wants to decrease it's marketing exposure</i> and i'll show you an honest, upright and soundly principled politician.<br><br><b>So, no, you are wrong</b> - and obviously know little (..if anything) about Marketing. Try to do more research before posting.
      thx-1138_
  • Are there real improvements?

    Or it's just for the sake of fast releases.
    LBiege
    • Not sure about improvements, but FF5 crashed like seven times a rown after

      @LBiege: ... update before showing even single page/tab from my previous auto-saves session by FF4.

      Not a nice start, to say it mildly. FF4 crashed at least once a day -- what never happened in FF3.6 -- lets see if FF5, despite this crazy update crashes, will behave better.
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

        @DeRSSS FF5 on Mac, right?
        Firefox on Mac has always sucked. Mac seems to be an afterthought for Mozilla.
        Stark_Industries
      • No, on Windows 7 Ultimate (I do not have Macintosh)

        @Stark_Industries
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

        @DeRSSS I have never had FF4 or 5 crash on me, or 3.6 and older.
        Clayman1000x
  • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

    Glad to see Firefox is in the fight. Anything to put pressure and competition on Chrome.
    LoverockDavidson
  • Quite simply, Microsoft can't win against Agile

    Congrats to the Agile Mozilla Developer Team!!
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate

      And what does this article have anything to do with MS freaking troll and as is didnt MS just announce that they will be releasing IE on a yearly basis now?
      Viper589
    • You just can't win, can you?

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate

      The more you think you're "discrediting MS" the more your reputation sinks . (not that it has much room left to go)

      And you really think this will get people to want to use your services?

      LOL! :)
      Will Pharaoh
    • Message has been deleted.

      jerang@...
    • Excellent way to introduce MS in the discussion

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate <br><br>where the article never even mentions that companys name!!
      DontBeEvil
    • Agile is synonymous of hack

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate

      I prefer companies take an acceptable amount of time designing and developing a product right from the beginning instead of just releasing hacks full of bugs and vulnerabilities.

      Just because Google doesn't believe in software quality control it should not mean that the rest of the world should rush out products and follow their irresponsible footsteps.
      wackoae
    • RE: Firefox 5's rapid debut shows that Mozilla is in the fight

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate Im running FF5 (4.1.0 really) on Windows 7 Ultimate x64!
      Tommy S.
    • Quit simply, Mozilla can't win against Chrome.

      @Dietrich

      What development methodology is Google using? Their browser seems to be the one to beat.
      otaddy