Firefox 1.0 was a world better than the decrepit Internet Explorer 6 in 2005. A decade later it's a different story. Mozilla and Firefox are the zombies, and IE -- alongside its Windows 10 browser cousin Edge, are alive and well.
How did Firefox go from being a popular, open-source web browser to the unpopular program it is today? It happened a little something like this.
It's been getting slower and klutzier release after release. I run all the major browsers and Firefox can't compete. I like Google Chrome the best today, but I think it could stand some improvement and competition.
Since then Mozilla has drifted both with its goals and its technology. Firefox, the web browser, became an after-thought. Mozilla's leadership put its focus on Firefox OS, its smartphone operating system rival to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
It failed -- badly.
By early December, the word was out. Mozilla was giving up on Firefox OS. Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla's senior vice president of connected devices, explained (perhaps as he was packing his desk): "Because we were not able to deliver the best user experience possible, we decided to stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels."
Mozilla also replaced its profitable Google ad deal with three different search engine deals: Yahoo, Yandex, and Baidu. How much does Mozilla make from these deals? We don't know. Mozilla isn't saying.
Ironically, in its latest financial report for 2014 but just released earlier this month, the Mozilla Foundation has its best financial year ever. The foundation increased its revenue from $314 million to more than $329 million. In the bank, Mozilla has $266.5 million in assets. Of course, this was all before Mozilla turned away from Google and to Yahoo for its main revenue stream.
While Mozilla may be cash-rich, it's hard to see where it goes from here. It's grand plan for the future, Firefox OS, is a dead operating system walking. The Firefox web browser continues to bleed both users and developers.
Mozilla and Firefox will continue to stumble forward, but it's both a zombie group and product. It's only a matter of time until both expire once and for all.