Firefox lost 6-9 million downloads in EU browser choice 'glitch'

Firefox lost 6-9 million downloads in EU browser choice 'glitch'

Summary: Mozilla's general counsel estimates between 6-9 million lost Firefox browser downloads thanks to Microsoft failing to include the 'browser choice' screen in latest versions of Windows 7.

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Mozilla vice president of business affairs and general counsel Harvey Anderson estimates that as a result of Microsoft's failure to include the so-called "browser choice" screen for Windows users in Europe for more than a year and a half, Mozilla lost between 6-9 million downloads in total.

In spite of ongoing legal action by the European Commission, Microsoft could face another lawsuit for loss of earnings, if Mozilla decides to bring the case to court.

Anderson explained on his blog that Mozilla saw Firefox daily downloads decrease by 63 percent to a low of just 20,000 a day just before the fix was implemented. Firefox downloads then increased by 150 percent to around 50,000 downloads a day after the Windows fix was issued to EU citizens in February 2010.

The "browser choice" screen allowed European users of Windows a choice of which Web browser to use on their machines. Browsers such as Firefox, Opera, or Chrome were offered alongside Microsoft's own Internet Explorer.

With the EU sending the statement of objections, the 27 member state bloc has formally charged Microsoft with antitrust offences following sufficient evidence to do so. Microsoft can either seek to settle the charges, which it will likely do, or battle it out for the long run, in which the software giant could face fines up to 10 percent of its annual turnover -- a maximum of €5.6 billion ($7.3bn).

Anderson noted:

After accounting for the aggregate impact on all the browser vendors, it seems like this technical glitch decreased downloads and diminished the effectiveness of the remedy ordered in the 2009 Commitments.

If we look at Net Applications' market share statistics, Mozilla has lost more than 3.6 percent in market share in the past 18 months alone, dropping from 23.72 percent from January 2011 when the browser choice was in place to just over 20 percent in the past quarter. The most noticeable drop was the month the browser choice screen was not included in Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) in February 2011. 

Though Mozilla is registered as a non-profit organization, the firm requires financing and revenue to support development of the browser, along with the bevy of other applications and services the browser maker offers.

While Mozilla generates much of its income from financing and donations, the majority of its revenue is attributed to "royalties," including selling its products through various websites and through user search requests, according to its 2010 financial statement [PDF]. Mozilla said last year that the search contract with Google, which was set to expire in December 2011, was renewed for another three years, until 2014.

According to AllThingsD, Google will pay close to $300 million per year to include its search engine on Firefox's front page and to keep the search engine as the browser's default choice. 

Ergo, the lesser the browser share, the greater the loss in revenue. If Microsoft is found to have broken its 2009 settlement commitments with the EU by failing to include the 'browser choice' screen since February 2011 -- which it likely will as it's admitted the mistake -- Mozilla could be allowed to bring a lawsuit citing loss of earnings.

Image credits: Harvey Anderson; Net Applications.

Topics: Open Source, Browser, Microsoft, EU, Tech Industry

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28 comments
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  • What is the sixth browser?

    There's 5 browsers in the legend, but 6 lines on the chart?
    wakieAU
    • Probably OTHERS

      as major stat counters do not count "exotic" web browsers unless they gain some market presence. So "others" is logical choice.
      przemoli
  • Incompetence

    "Mozilla vice president of business affairs and general counsel Harvey Anderson estimates that as a result of Microsoft's failure to include the so-called "browser choice" screen for Windows users in Europe for more than a year and a half, Mozilla lost between 6-9 million downloads in total. "

    This Mozilla guy's statement is an insult to human sanity. Most users in EU has enough education to understand basic computing needs.

    The browser choice 'punishment' is already outdated, it’s pointless.

    A lot of people in the EU owns mobile devices from apple / Google. If it’s really about giving browser choices, EU must enforce it in those devices as well. But there are no other browser in iOS, so why not EU build another one and give the EU citizens a choice????

    Mozilla’s loss of market share is due to Google torpedoing it with it Chrome browser... it is shame that Mozilla’s blaming MS for its incompetence.
    owlllnet
    • Proxy

      " it is shame that Mozilla’s blaming MS for its incompetence."

      Mozilla is a google proxy (most of their income is from google), and google likes games like this, black PR through 3rd party company, not first and not last time they play that card.
      Mr.SV
    • Trollol, tralala... And your lack of understanding of EU law is...

      1) For EU to investigate it need official complain (stupid if you ask me, but...).
      2) It need monopoly. Nor Apple, nor Google have such in smarthpones/tablets (and early one EVERY market consist of just one player, so you need to give some time for market to grow and mature)
      3) You need practices that are harmful for customers.

      MS did fulfilled all requirements. It had monopoly, it practiced harmful tactics, and there was a lot of complains.

      And your notion that iOS/Android do not have Browser Screen Choice are dumb. They have app stores, which are YYY Screen Choice's, where YYY can be replaced with any kind of software. In other words to install Opera Mini you do not need to open Safari/Chrome, but can use those browser choice screen :P

      On Win7 you either use IE or in EU can open browser choice screen. On Win8 you will not have to open IE in order to install 3rd party web browser.
      przemoli
      • well

        I see your sentiment with Microsoft.
        >>And your notion that iOS/Android do not have Browser Screen Choice are dumb. They have app stores, which are YYY Screen Choice's, where YYY can be replaced with any kind of software. In other words to install Opera Mini you do not need to open Safari/Chrome, but can use those browser choice screen :P

        But by default which browser gets come with those devices, right, Safari and Google's on those by default respectively, and we don't have any choice there unless some wise can go to appstore and download. I see a monopoly there too because they are dominant in the mobile space.
        Ram U
        • Actually on iOS

          Safari is the only browser that you are allowed to run. All of the other browsers are required to use the safari engine, unless of course they use servers to render the page for them (like Opera). That's one of my biggest dislikes about iOS and my iPhone. The browser sucks and no one is allowed to even try and make a better one.
          Sam Wagner
      • And does your app store automatically pop up?

        I know that on my Apple iPod I have to *manually* open the App Store if I want to look for an app. It doesn't automatically pop up on my screen when I turn the iPod on. And since that's how iOS is set up, that means that on *every* iPod touch, iPad & iPhone you will get *identical* behavior.

        As for Android, don't have anything, but my brother-in-law has a smartphone with Android on it... and just like my iPod, when he turns it on it defaults to his main screen with the *already installed apps* (i.e. *not* his Google app store).

        The big question, though, is whether Mozilla was able to prove that the drop in downloads from their site, and subsequent jump after Microsoft's "fix", was *100%* limited to customers located within the EU, or at least *significantly* limited to that region. For example, if they went from 20,000 to 50,000 downloads in one day, did the extra 30,000 downloads *really* come from European users that a) had just bought a *brand-new* PC, and b) had gone for at least a day without realizing that "oh, uh, I guess my brand-new PC doesn't have that one non-IE browser I had on my old PC, wish I could remember what it was called so that I could go & install it *myself*".
        spdragoo@...
    • Wrong

      Euh wrong. How do you explain this then: "Firefox downloads then increased by 150 percent to around 50,000 downloads a day after the Windows fix was issued to EU citizens in February 2010."

      Outdated? So, what's your point? Did you even read the article? We are talking about harm done in the past due to a MS "bug". It is justified that they demand some kind of compensation. Just because it is fixed now and that it is a non-issue now doesn't mean harm wasn't done.

      Chrome torpedoed Firefox? More like torpedoed IE. Another typical Chrome fanboy talking crap about Firefox. Latest report says Chrome userbase has practically plateaued and sits below Firefox's. Deal with it.
      Dyson Lu
      • I agree with you in this case,

        but the EU sure does seem to like to try and get money from Microsoft whenever they can. Why haven't they gone after Apple for anything, they basically have (or atleast had) a monopoly on the tablet market for a while and they don't allow browser choice. Not to mention their ebook pricing scheme.
        Sam Wagner
        • Sam Wagner Could it be because Microsoft is always looking for ways to

          circumvent EU laws? ..... If you don't like the laws.....don't sell your products there...........

          remember what Microsoft did to Word Perfect when they had a better product............they simply kept Word Perfect docs formatting properly..............didn't take long for Word Perfect to semi fade away............Microsoft does what ever it see's fit to squash anything in their way..............
          Over and Out
  • Sixth browser

    wakie-4ea78 if you click on the link that says Net Applications' market share statistics it takes you to the original article which simply says "other" browsers, so there is no 6th one just all the rest.
    peter-m-stanley@...
  • Don't do it Mozilla

    6-9 million is a drop in the bucket, you are going to burn bridges with Microsoft, a potential sponsor with BING, with a lawsuit.
    Aliephe
  • Wow

    That means at least there are 6-9 million ignorants from EU surfing online as per Mozilla's vice president. No wonder.
    Ram U
    • Talk about ignorance

      Here's an example, Mister Average Joe opens browser choice screen and sees Firefox, which he has never tried before but heard about it a bit. He selects it out of curiosity and, after some testing time, decided to stick with it.

      People like you should think outside their little tech-world bubble, think about what could happen with normal average joes.
      Dyson Lu
      • So he's never seen it previously in the past 10 years?

        You honestly expect us to believe that there were 30,000 *brand-new* PC buyers that have never bought a Windows PC before in their life, and decided to then choose Firefox over the other choices? Really?!?

        And if they had previously used Firefox, they apparently weren't that avid of fans of Firefox, because at no time during that 18 month span did they ever contact their ISP's tech support -- or, more likely, the friend/family member that handles tech issues & new PC setup for them -- to ask, "hey, where's that funny-sounding browser I was using that I can't find on my new PC?"

        I use Firefox (although I prefer their Seamonkey suite better), & Firefox is my wife's preferred browser. So one of the *first* things I do with a new PC is go directly to the Mozilla website to download it. My wife did the same thing on her work PC, & she's not a techie. Neither one of us needs our hand held & led through a pop-up screen on a new PC to figure out where to find a particular app...and we don't want that kind of "there, there, that's a good child, you tried so hard!!!" treatment. We're adults, & we expect to be treated as such.
        spdragoo@...
  • Strange that Chrome managed to grow without the browser choice

    yet Mozilla declined.

    For that matter it looks like both Mozilla and Internet Explorer each lost market share while Chrome was gaining.

    I think Mozilla might have trouble showing that the loss of 6-9 million users were a result of the browser choice missing in windows7 since it seems those users went to Chrome and not Internet Explorer.
    Emacho
    • Not strange

      Chrome could have grown even more with the browse choice.

      Firefox and IE losing marketshare was expected since a third potent browser from a mighty company like Google will make definitely a dent into their marketshare.

      Yet another Chrome fanboy trashtalking Firefox.
      Dyson Lu
    • The Google home page has a link to install Chrome.

      It works on Linux, Mac and Windows. So anybody that uses Google has an easy way to install Chrome on any computer.
      And apparently many do, as shown above.
      anothercanuck
  • Firefox lost 6-9 million downloads in EU browser choice 'glitch'

    This shows that the browser ballot should never have been implemented to begin with and Microsoft should not have to include it. If they didn't then the users would have known to go to Mozilla's site and download Firefox. Blame the EU for this one.
    Loverock Davidson-