Mozilla founder is right: Firefox has lost it


Mozilla founder is right: Firefox has lost it

I’ve written in the past about my defection from Firefox to Chrome as my default browser, and was called everything from a “troll” to a “little bitch” for moaning about its increasingly slovenly performance and constant nagging.

Now, it appears even Mozilla’s friends are turning on Firefox. The browser’s co-founder, Blake Ross, was reportedly asked on a web forum whether he felt Firefox could maintain even double-digit market share over the next five years (it currently has around 25% of the worldwide market, according to Net Applications). He replied:

“I’m pretty sceptical. I think the Mozilla Organisation has gradually reverted back to its old ways of being too timid, passive and consensus-driven to release breakthrough products quickly.”

I make him right. It gives me no pleasure to lay into Mozilla – Firefox was my default browser for the best part of the last decade, and Mozilla engineers are among the smartest and nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to interview. But Firefox has lost it.

On the rare occasions I fire up the browser these days, it takes 30 seconds or so to get going, and then often needs a reboot once the various extensions have updated themselves. Admittedly, much of that delay is caused by me only opening the browser once a week instead of every day, meaning the updates arrive en masse, but it’s certainly no incentive to go back. Chrome never takes more than 10-15 seconds to get going, and is usually ready for action the moment I press the logo on the taskbar.

Mozilla Firefox also looks like a browser of yesteryear. That stolid grey chrome and old-fashioned menu bar look dated compared to Chrome’s clutter-free, blue interface. And although the performance difference is marginal compared to Internet Explorer, Chrome does have a clear advantage over Firefox on JavaScript-heavy web apps (most notably, of course, Google’s own).

It seems it’s not only me who has swapped Firefox for Chrome, either. The chart below shows the percentage of visitors to using the two browsers. As you can see, Chrome has been rising steadily upwards to almost 14% of our visitors this month, while Firefox’s share has been eroded from a peak of mid-forties last summer to today’s share of 35%.

Browser share chart

PC Pro visitors are by no means representative of the internet as a whole, but they are an excellent bellwether of things to come, with our early-adopter audience often reflecting trends that will soon become mainstream.

Unless Mozilla can pull something special out of the hat for Firefox 4 – and we’ve seen nothing revolutionary so far – Blake Ross’ prediction looks somewhat ominous.

Read Tim Danton’s sterling defence of Mozilla Firefox here

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