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Mozilla The Internet

Firefox Momentum Slows 558

Posted by Zonk
from the get-firefox dept.
linumax wrote to mention an Information Week story about an apparent slowing of Firefox's usage growth. From the article: "San Diego-based WebSideStory released market share numbers for Firefox, IE, and other browsers that noted Firefox has crept up from April's 6.75 percent to September's 7.86 percent, a single percentage point gain in five months. During the first few months after its November, 2004, release, Firefox was adding another point each month. 'It looks like Firefox has hit the push-back point,' said Geoff Johnston, an analyst with WebSideStory. 'We always knew there was a finite number of early adopters out there and a finite number of Microsoft haters who would switch to something new, but we didn't know what that number was. It looks like we're approaching it.'"
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Firefox Momentum Slows

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  • by Kazzahdrane (882423) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:16AM (#13676263)
    IE 7 finally has tabbed browsing, no doubt to try and win back users who have dumped IE for Firefox and the other feature-superior browsers. I'm a big fan of Firefox, I love the small footprint and the fact that the menus etc take up very little screen space so I can see much more of a webpage than with IE. However, I'll be checking out IE 7 and if I like it more I'll switch to it. As an aside, it's hard to recommend Firefox to some friends/family when they can't comprehend how useful tabbed browsing it. I've successfully converted a few people though and they all comment that they'd hate to surf the web without tabs now. Maybe they should rename them iTabs or something to make them trendy.
  • Most Likely (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hcob$ (766699) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:17AM (#13676274)
    They started seeing a slow down cause of all the other options that are cropping up; Opera(free) being one of them. Just a thought...
  • next step (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timtwobuck (833954) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:19AM (#13676291)
    So...whats the next step?

    Obviously the current marketing effort led by the Firefox team has reached, or is soon to reach, the most people it can. There now needs to be a second push to help promote this browser up past 10% market share. Once one in every ten users is using Firefox, then maybe the 'word of mouth' changes will begin to increase more-so.

    Personally, I have installed it on my parents' machine, all my tech-saavy coworkers, and I promote it every chance I get. Once we hit the 10% mark, all the people that were too lazy to do it might just say, hey, well, everyone else is doing it, why not me?.
  • by zerojoker (812874) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:22AM (#13676333)
    http://www.xitimonitor.com/etudes/equipement7.asp [xitimonitor.com]
    I'm just wondering why the market share in Europe is so much higher? I mean, I doubt that there is such a different user basis?! (The linked article talks about 20% market-share in Germany and Poland...)
  • by dacarr (562277) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:23AM (#13676339) Homepage Journal
    Just because people don't download Firefox as much as they have been doesn't mean that interest is flagging, it might just mean that people aren't upgrading directly from the site. This also doesn't count the Linux mirror networks such as that found with Debian, Mandrake, Redhat, or maybe even Gentoo - they provide a copy of Firefox in the appropriate packaging scheme, and Mozilla won't count those because they don't come from Mozilla.

    As such, just because downloads are flagging doesn't mean interest is.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:24AM (#13676352)
    The help will be in this form:

    That some major government mandates the default installation of a browser that meets W3C standards to some debatable extent, (say 90%), on all computer systems purchased. Within this restriction, vendors would be required to meet some standards on a 100% basis. With OpenDocument, Massachusetts has done its part. Now, they should extend this to browsers.

    If that happens, Firefox will take off.

  • Why change browsers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by green pizza (159161) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:26AM (#13676377) Homepage
    I have recommended Firefox to all of my coworkers, friends, and family over the past year. So far I have not personally heard of anyone who has fully switched to Firefox ever switch back to MSIE.

    That said, I do know of MANY people who have zero interest in even trying Firefox. They don't care about tabbed browsing, they already know the ins and outs of MSIE. Generally these aren't the people who actually have to remove their spyware and virii, so they don't fully understand security issues and associated pains.

    I think it boils down to this: Most geeks like Firefox and have already switched. Joe Sixpack and Ted the PHB have in interest in learning how to use a new browser, or even learn how to click on a different icon.

    (And then there's the camp of newbies that think "the internet" is built into their "computer" and is only accessed by clicking on the magical blue e)
  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kgruscho (801766) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:27AM (#13676388)
    As a sysadmin I switched the computers i am in charge of to firefox. I've been to labs where others clearly did the same. This is room for growth.

    Also many webapps are bothering to support firefox. If that trend continues and firefox improves itself a bit to offer more features, then I think the growth trend will continue, albeit at a non-insane pace.

  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:27AM (#13676397)

    Firefox was supposed to be more secure than IE. But exploits for both browsers are close in numbers


    But not in severity.

    It beats me why people still think that counting the vulnerabilities is of any value in determining the security of different browsers.
  • Could it be..? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Splork2 (152140) <Splork&gmail,com> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:28AM (#13676402)
    Could it be that IE is part of the OS and therefore people tend to use what is there or more importantly what they're used too? Case in point. I've been trying to get my wife to switch to Firefox for over a year now. I've removed all the icons on her desktop, start menu, etc., but yet everytime she turns on her laptop and jumps on the net she finds her way to IE. I guess you can't teach and old dog new tricks.
  • Numbers? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ValourX (677178) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:29AM (#13676430) Homepage
    I doubt these numbers. The Jem Report gets about 3k visitors per day, and no more than 25% of them are using a version of IE. Mozilla-based browsers are almost twice that number.

    Looking at two other sites I have that have much less traffic, IE's numbers are around 20% or less. Two months ago it was the opposite -- IE was around 50% of TJR's traffic, and certainly more than 20% on the other sites. Something big happened in the past two or three months that drastically changed browser numbers. I think WebSideStory's data is old or just plain inaccurate.
  • by Evil Grinn (223934) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:31AM (#13676454)
    . As an aside, it's hard to recommend Firefox to some friends/family when they can't comprehend how useful tabbed browsing it. I've successfully converted a few people though and they all comment that they'd hate to surf the web without tabs now. Maybe they should rename them iTabs or something to make them trendy.

    I converted my wife to Mozilla (before Firefox existed) because IE was fucked up on her computer, and it was easier to install Mozilla than to figure out was wrong with IE. Only then did she "get" stuff like tabbed browsing and text resizing that works. She's got a new PC since then, and Firefox was the first thing installed on it.
  • by kiveol (866603) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:33AM (#13676482)
    I think it boils down to this: Most geeks like Firefox and have already switched. Joe Sixpack and Ted the PHB have in interest in learning how to use a new browser, or even learn how to click on a different icon.

    So how about an IE Skin and an icon change?
  • Re:Web Developers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ziggamon2.0 (796017) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:35AM (#13676500) Homepage
    And this is why the current "slowdown" of adoption doesn't matter.
    Firefox has reached that ~10%.
    Other browsers (Safari + Opera + Konqueror) have maybe 5%.

    Which means that IE is down to 85%, and web developers can no longer create IE-only web sites, and apply pressure at Microsoft to be more standards compliant.

    Which caused the come of IE7, which has fixes for many of the reasons we web developers hate IE, such as CSS, the box model and the PNG problems you are talking about.

    So - it's ok that the adoption rate doesn't increase. The microsoft 99% dominance on the browser market is broken, probably forever, and now we can once again experience that development in web standards that has been away since Netscape was crushed by MS.

    So - you're looking at the wrong place.
    Firefox has already succeded. It created better web browsing for everyone.
  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by marcello_dl (667940) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:37AM (#13676529) Homepage Journal
    Well maybe from an average windows-centric perspective. But firefox is an open and multi-platform browser, not a mere third party replacement for IE.

    What if lots of people buy the ps3 with hd (good way to evade the console tax in some places of the world) and want to browse the web too? They're gonna get firefox. The next IE-killer might as well be gecko based, too, or derived directly from firefox.
  • Re:Most Likely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by L. VeGas (580015) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:37AM (#13676531) Homepage Journal
    Opera is exploding right now. My logs show an increase of Opera over the past week of about 500%. After the buzz of "free Opera" dies down, who knows if it will maintain?

    Most geeks love Firefox extensions (I do), but Joe User just isn't interested in dealing with that stuff. Opera offers more functionality straight out of the box, and almost nobody outside the tech community cares at all about open source.

    I think Firefox might have reached market saturation. I wish it weren't the case, but I fear it may be true.

    There was a fluff piece I wrote a little while ago about Opera vs. Firefox [nedwolf.com] that addresses some of this.
  • by Blimey85 (609949) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:57AM (#13676757)
    I really like Firefox but I'll be the first to tell you that the real power is extensions. Until I get my favorite extensions installed and configured, Firefox to me isn't much better than IE. I install a nice them, 38 extensions (that's how many I have installed right now), and then I'm pretty damn happy.

    What about having a prepackaged version that has maybe a dozen themes and 15 or 20 of the most popular extensions? Maybe even have something that comes up when you run it for the first time that walks you through enabling some extensions that are preinstalled. That would make it much easier for a new person to become familiar with the true power of Firefox.

    A lot of people don't know what Adblock is. They've never heard of WeatherFox, or FoxyTunes, or CuteMenus, or Linkification, or DownloadStatusbar or any of the other really cool extensions. Some of these are extensions that most users would probably use if they new about them. You and I have no problem because we are geeks... but what about the Average Joes out there that don't know the first thing about installing extensions or changing themes? Lets walk them through it visually and give them some choices right up front.

    I think this would go a long way to ensuring that the people who do give Firefox a try, never look back.

    On a similar note, is there way I can package my installation for friends? I'd like to be able to make a copy that I can email to a few people so they can have the exact same setup I have... and I'd also like to be able to set it up on one machine and copy it to my other machines without having to manually install each extension on each machine. Anyone have a link that details how to do this or some directions/tips/whatever? Thanks!

  • by ink (4325) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:05PM (#13676835) Homepage
    So, only two groups use Firefox: Early adopters and Microsoft Haters.

    I use Linux on my desktop and I have a PowerBook. Which category does that put me in? The last time I checked, I couldn't run Internet Explorer... but someone please correct me if I'm wrong here.

    Firefox has achieved many of its goals regardless, with 10% of the web not using Internet Explorer (Firefox + Opera + Safari + Konq) websites are no longer able to simply plug Microsoft technology into their websites and run with it. I can't remember the last website that I visited that didn't function properly in Firefox -- which was a very common problem in the bad-old-days of IE5/ActiveX (again, through no supposed hatred on my part). Microsoft is a better netizen today than they were five years ago. Their development is more open, and their technologies are more cooperative. There is much more of a free market in webspace now, which is a good thing.
  • Re:slows? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Quevar (882612) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:05PM (#13676836)
    The article wasn't indicating that Firefox was eating away at Microsoft's market share. The increase is coming from other browsers - people who had switched off of IE prior to Firefox being released.

    I think this goes to show that Firefox is reaching it's high point of getting all the geeks to convert. So, from this assumption and the article, I conclude that 7.86 percent of computer users are geeeks.

    It would be great if one of the computer manufacturers, like HP, would start bundling Firefox with their shipping computers as the default browser.
  • by shudde (915065) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:27PM (#13677050)

    To my mind the difference in adoption rates between Europe and the United States (which I'm presuming is the inferred basis of comparison) boils down to the respective mind-sets of their populations.

    Many European countries have a reputation for fast adoption of new technologies in the last century. While America remains the most powerful consumer nation, I believe there's a profound difference in the way technology is used. Putting aside the geek community, many more of the Europeans I've dealt with seem to view internet usage as a social/recreational experience. Comparatively the non-technical Americans I've known, seem less inclined to 'play under the hood'.

    Disclaimer: I'm Australian so if you think I've got a facile understanding of these cultures, feel free to call me on it.

  • Re:slows? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trelane (16124) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:37PM (#13677155) Journal
    E.g. you always write "http://www.hotmail.com/". not "http://www.hotmail.com/."
    Though "http://www.hotmail.com./" should work (though it doesn't in many setups, unfortunately). Should also be much faster, since it usually avoids at least one local failed DNS request (and is more secure as well!).
  • by bmwatm (649536) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:43PM (#13677223)
    The Johnson Space Center IT department has installed Firefox this week. They will also be regularly patching it as required. Some odd 15000 people work at JSC.
  • Doesn't MSN require the use of IE to log into the netowrk?

    I just used my hotmail user/pass to sign in to My MSN on the MSN.com web site using Mozilla Firefox 1.5b1, and nothing ill happened. My aunt's ex-boyfriend has Verizon Online DSL "with MSN" and he can still get a routable IP address through DHCP without running any more of IE than what Windows Explorer uses. Which MSN did you mean?

  • by sgtrock (191182) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:45PM (#13677250)
    Both from September:

    From Xiti [zdnet.co.uk], a French Web monitoring company.

    From NetApplications [informationweek.com], a US Web monitoring company. Both say that while FF is growing, it's not growing as fast as some of the other alternative browsers. Of particular interest is that both say IE is still slowly losing ground.
  • by einhverfr (238914) <chris.travers@gmail. c o m> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @01:23PM (#13677655) Homepage Journal
    can browse the web from explorer.exe just as well as iexplore....or even control panel

    Exactly. 90%+ of IE's functionality is integrated into the OS. You can't reasonably uninstall it without breaking tons of crap (like the html help viewer). When we say IE, we don't mean iexplore.exe. We mean the entire web browser.

    Of course Konqueror is integrated into KDE in the same way.....

    This being said, I take issue with the fact that "Microsoft Haters" are switching to Firefox. Most real Microsoft Haters are already using alternative operating systems and IE isn't available to them anyway. Anyway, real Microsoft haters would probably have switched to Linux or OS X by now....

    Early adopters OTOH, is a different matter.
  • by animale (918947) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @01:58PM (#13677947)
    Firefox is not slowing. It's users are getting better as manipulating the browser. One of the first Firefox extensions many of us add is User String Agent, so we can get into "IE only" websites. Many of us use Webwasher or anon-surfing products, many of which also change the user string. To a webstat gathering firm, I'm an IE user whether I'm using Firefox or Opera, and I don't want to be counted as using IE for anything except Windows Update or badly written websites.

    I didn't give up on Firefox, it's my primary browser. But I'm not counted by the web statistic collection firms, so their data is a fraud. These firms must develop better data-collection methodologies or be exposed as frauds and face legal sanction.
  • by silverbax (452214) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @01:58PM (#13677950)
    I was reviewing usage stats yesterday and I noticed the same 'leveling off', but with W3schools it's 18%, not 7%.

    Firefox exploded from 5% in January 04 to 21% in May 05. Now it's crept back down a bit off that high.

    Don't really have a reason to offer, but here's the stats:

    http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.a sp [w3schools.com]
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:10PM (#13678070)
    Firefox has always had the following noticible benefits:

    1. better security
    2. tabbed browsing
    3. pop-up blocking
    4. more polished UI for certain things (like the options dialog)

    #2 and #3 are in IE. #1 is a big deal, but you've always been able to get the same effect by changing security settings in IE. With Microsoft switching to those settings, the difference is negligible. #4 I like, but it's just a tweak; it's not like MS couldn't do this.

    So, in all honesty, Firefox has always been, more or less, IE+. The key point is that open source developers managed to get something that worked as well as IE, then add some nice bonus features. In regard to the bonus features, it's not like Microsoft (a) wouldn't borrow good ideas from Firefox, and (b) would have a tremendous amount of trouble adding some additional features to an existing application. From that perspective, anyone who expect Firefox to blow IE out of the water was fooling themselves. There was a nice lull in IE development which allowed some catch-up time, and it's good that the Firefox team could take advantage of it.

    But now we're at the stage where FF and IE are essentially equals. Microsoft engineers could very easily have significant improvements to IE in the works; something that could become the standard for web browsing. If that happens, it's going to make the FF team look out of touch, spending all that time just to clone a previous generation product and make some improvements to it. True vision is something that FF development is lacking.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:21PM (#13678204)

    If a web page can't be displayed by 10% of the people, its no biggie.


    I guess I'd have to disagree. 10% is somewhere around the time where you need to be concerned about people not being able to see the page. This is especially true in a market with tight profit margins. Losing 10% of your customers is a major hit when you only have say a 5% profit margin anyway. It wouldn't kill the business, but I'd say it's enough to justify the often minor work of making sure your website works on Firefox as well as IE.
  • by geneticmemory (919016) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @05:18PM (#13679907)
    I run windows 2000 on a five-year-old computer, and firefox takes like three times longer to load than IE does. I switched back.

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