Firefox web browser popularity wanes

Firefox web browser popularity wanes

Summary: There was a time when Firefox was the number two web browser, but those days may never come back.


When you take a look at Net Applications' web desktop browser market share reports over the long run two things stand out. One, there's the rise of Google's Chrome to second place, and two, Mozilla's Firefox's steep decline.

After a long slow fall, Firefox's market-share decline recently got steeper.

How bad is Firefox's fall? In June 2014, Firefox hit a new five-year low of 15.6 percent market share.

Back in October 2009, Firefox was on the rise and had reached 23.75 percent. Life was good. Since July 2012, the browser started trending downward. Indeed, since May 2013, with Firefox at 20.6%, the once popular browser hasn't risen above 20%.

As for the other desktop web browsers, Internet Explorer (IE) retains first place with a new two-year high of 58.4 percent in June 2014. Chrome, which jumped from 17.7 to 19.3 percent between May and June 2014, gained the most from Firefox's decline. Apple's Safari has also not been doing well. At 5.3 percent, Safari hasn't been this unpopular since March 2013.

Why is that happening? That's a good question.

Certainly the improvements and publicity for Chrome and IE hasn't hurt any. Firefox's reputation, on the other hand, has been tarnished by adding ads to the web browser and by Mozilla's continuing CEO problems.

Adding to the problems is the fact that Mozilla's ad deal with Google is coming to its renewal date. This is significant because over 90 percent of Mozilla's revenue comes from Google but Google now has its own browser. It's hard to see Google renewing the deal.

While Mozilla has hopes to become a mobile operating power with Firefox OS, it's made little progress against the two mobile operating system giants: Google with Android and Apple with iOS. Even if Mozilla were to do better than its management's wildest dreams, it's hard to see Firefox OS licensing fees making up for its potential Google revenue losses. 

Speaking of mobile, the Firefox browser is a total non-player in this market. As of June 2014, Safari had a 46.1 percent share of the market; this is followed by the native Android browser with 22.8 percent; Chrome with 16.7 percent; Opera Mini at 7.6 percent, Internet Explorer at 2 percent; and, finally, almost lost in the noisem is Firefox at 0.7 percent.

For Firefox to remain a web browser power, it needs to make big improvements and it needs to make them now. Otherwise, Firefox may yet follow its predecessor Netscape into the web's past.

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Topics: Networking, Browser, Google

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  • Sad news

    Mozilla Firefox is the only fully open source popular web browser. It doesn't keep your browsing data and it respects your privacy, unlike Google Chrome. It has a lot of powerful extensions unlike Safari and implements web standards much better than IE. It's sad that people don't like Firefox so much.
    As for the ads, Firefox never will be an adware. It's FUD.
    • Firefox also sucks

      Sorry, but aside from the awesome Firebug, and a great extensions model, Firefox kinda sucks. XUL is a terrible UI technology, that results in an interface that doesn't really look good on any platform it runs on. And now that they've been adding feature after feature after feature, and breaking extensions willy nilly with the rapid cadence... it really has kind of gone downhill.
      • +1

        I work and hobby i open source and I share all the op's feelings re ff, but truth is it's just slow bloated and not as initiative as it's competition. I love the plug ins, but I do find myself using chromium more and more.
      • I am sorry but this does not compute

        You say " a great extensions model" and then goes on to say that XUL sucks. These are not exactly the same things but XUL is the base for the extensions so how could they be great when XUL sucks. Can you please elaborate?
        I still think Chrome/IE are years behind Firefox where it counts for me with all the blunders Mozilla has made.
        • Sorry, it does compute

          Yes, I recognize that XUL is what enables the extensions. And that is the one truly great thing about FireFox.

          But it comes at a cost - and that is that Firefox doesn't feel platform native anywhere... not on Linux, OS X, or Windows. It always feels like a crudely drawn emulation of an application for the platform you're on, rather than the real thing.

          Between that and the "throw the kitchen sink in" approach with Firefox (they just added an HTML5 IDE), its kind of turning into a bloated, ungainly version of the Netscape Navigator Suite....
          • What are you talking about?

            I seriously don't understand where you are coming from. How does Chrome look any more 'native' than Firefox?

            As for performance, Firefox is the highest performing browser. Faster than Chrome. Faster than IE. It is also the least bloated, using the least memory (especially with multiple tabs open) and it has the smallest download size -- not that you can get rid of IE 11 on the latest versions of Windows.

            It has been almost a year and a half since Chrome offered a performance advantage over Firefox. Combine that with the fact that Chrome is a crash-factory compared to Firefox and IE (at least on Windows, where I spend 99% of my OS time) and Firefox is clearly the best browser *even before* you add all the moral reasons why using Firefox is the 'right thing to do.'

            For a recent speed test, check out this one: But there's many more all around the Internet that find the same thing.
            x I'm tc
          • maybe

            Technical speed test show it to be faster, but every time I've installed it at a customer site (versions 28-30) the performance has been SO BAD I've had to remove it. Once the people I deal with see Chrome and FF side-by-side, there's no argument. FF is out.

            Sure, this is totally anecdotal, but in the world I work in (250+ customer base) the results have been nearly the same in every instance. FF is just too slow and buggy.
          • Reality check, please

            "As for performance, Firefox is the highest performing browser. Faster than Chrome. Faster than IE. It is also the least bloated, using the least memory (especially with multiple tabs open) and it has the smallest download size -- not that you can get rid of IE 11 on the latest versions of Windows."

            Real world, Firefox is slower to start and slower in general than Chrome. I don't use IE, so I don't know how it compares".

            And to call Chrome a crash-factory is inept and ridiculous. I use Chrome all day, every day, on multiple computers and phones, and I can't even remember the last time it crashed. If yours is, YOU are the problem, not Chrome.
    • Good and bad...

      I have been using IE more and more, mainly because I do a lot of surfing on my tablet.

      Firefox is slow and lethargic on an Atom based tablet, whilst IE still flies. It also doesn't help that Mozilla canned the touch UI before they even released it, making it unsuited for use on a tablet.

      I still use Firefox as my standard browser on my desktop and I do use it on my tablet for certain tasks - mainly because of NoScript.
      • I've stopped using FF entirely.

        The new GUI looks like it'd be nice for touch, but Mozilla seems to have scrapped the idea.

        While not everybody owns a touch-enabled device, features like those can be deal-breakers.
  • Interested that you quoted Net Applications

    No doubt you've written on the subject before! But Net Applications stands out so differently from the other stats. I understand they use a different methodology, I take it you trust them more? Just interested because I know you are no MS booster, and they often quote those figures because they show IE in a good light. Also experience feelings of sadness about FF until I actually go use it, and it annoys the hell out of me!
    • I agree that different stat data should be shown

      But the author is not very fond of MS and is an enthusiast about open source.
      While I think netmarketshare can be "fishy" (for then iOS is way bigger than android still!) I don't think the author is being "dishonest" or trying to hide anything, because comscore data would be more favorable to his "cause".
    • Should...

      ...he choose a different provider so that MS is shown in a bad light?

      NetApplications measures users, StatCounter measures usage. If you have 2 users, one opening a page in IE and the other opening 20 pages in Chrome, StatCounter shows 20 to 1 for Chrome while NetApplications shows 1 to 1. To me, marketshare equates user adoption and not impersonal traffic share, thus NetApplications is better.
      • Why not?

        He's done it before.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Net Applications data is useless

        Users vs Usage isn't the problem. The problem is that Net Applications heavily weights their results and the data/methodology they use to do so is WILDLY erroneous. For example, if 3% of the users Net Applications monitors are from China, but their data shows that 9% of all internet users are from China then they multiply their Chinese user data by 3 to get it up to the 'expected' 9%.

        That's fine in theory, but ludicrous in practice. The problem is that the data they use on 'internet users', taken from the CIA fact book, for each country was collected at different points in time using different methodologies... for France they might have a 2010 study of people who use internet at home every day... while for India they have a 2012 study of users with home or work computer internet access at least once a week... and for China they have a 2013 study of people with any form of internet access, including smartphones. When they compute each country's percentage of the global non-mobile internet market from these stats some countries are skewed based on when the data was collected, others are skewed because mobile devices are being included, and others because one country only counts daily usage while another counts weekly.

        The impact of this was plainly visible when smart phone usage started to take off in China and Net Applications reported Internet Explorer 'desktop' usage inexplicably soaring while all other measurement firms showed IE in free-fall. The small percentage of Chinese computer users Net Applications measured, most of whom were using Internet Explorer, got grossed up to match the rising number of Chinese 'internet users'... despite the fact that the growth in internet usage was being driven by smartphones. Internet Explorer usage didn't actually increase... it was just artificially inflated by Net Application's methodology effectively counting more smartphone internet users as more desktop Internet Explorer users.
  • Why would google not renew the deal?

    "It's hard to see Google renewing the deal." This is rubbish. Google had a browser last time the deal was renewed they are not just going to ignore 15% of web traffic and allow Firefox to sign a deal with Microsoft to have bing the default search engine.
  • Self inflicted wounds and aggressive Google

    I think it is a combination of factors as of late. The Austrailis bs alienated a many loyal fans, the most hardcore and evangelist of the bunch. Then you had the CEO Brendan fiasco, and how Firefox handled it made nobody happy.

    Then more measurable is how aggressive google is pushing chrome. It is bundled with everything, most likely if you installed any number of free software in the last couple of years, you probably inadvertently installed Chrome on your computer whether you like it or not.
    • Aye...

      Australis, or whatever they call it, blows.
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • bundled? I have never had Chrome installed. And I use sourceforge alot.

      I have never seen a single OSS package that installs chrome. Not one.

      To me I don't see much aggression on Google's part at all.

      You say everything, my experience is nothing. I have never inadvertently installed Chrome.
    • Eich fiasco

      "Then you had the CEO Brendan fiasco, and how Firefox handled it made nobody happy."

      And the ironic thing is they forced him out primarily to keep what is happening from happening, to keep a bad public perception of the company from forming. They forced him out because they were elitist liberals who were out of touch with the realities of homosexual activism and how real people view it. Because they are homosexual activists and then insulated themselves with people who are homosexual activists or have swallowed the homosexual propaganda whole, they got burned by reality. Most people know what the practice of homosexuality is about and that it is not how the homosexual activists propaganda machine spins it.