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Firefox Momentum Slows 558

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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  • slows? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:13AM (#13676233)
    So what if it slows. It still eats away at Micro$oft's market share. One thing going for Firefox at least they fix it's flaws quickly.
  • by program21 ( 469995 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:14AM (#13676240) Homepage Journal
    Did they really need to say that there was "a finite number of early adopters ... and a finite number of Microsoft haters"? Did anyone really think there were an infinite number of either?
  • Right but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TarrySingh ( 916400 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:14AM (#13676244) Homepage
    But Firefox will find it difficult to move into the double digits of market share, and retain those numbers. "It's hard to get there," said Johnston. "To do it, Firefox has to go mainstream." It's time firefox is also bundled in the new PC's /laptops which are sold out there into the market.
  • Bound to happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:15AM (#13676254)
    There are only so many individuals you can convince that you are more likely to have a better and safer web experience with Firefox than IE. Not guaranteed, but more likely. What should now be a focus for people concerned about this is convincing large businesses and universities to consider it. Any large switch is painful and expensive, but the reduced support costs down the road should be considered.
  • Microsoft haters? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:15AM (#13676259) Homepage Journal
    Its not about being a Microsoft hater.
    Most people I know who use firefox still use and prefer MS Windows to the alternatives.

    Software compatibility is important and being able to go into a shop and buy any software for Windows means Windows will remain for a while.
    When the tiny Apple or Linux section in computer shops grows and software is generically released for more platforms things will change.

    My local PC world (in England) is already being taken over by Apple Macs so its only a matter of time now :)
  • not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nex6 ( 471172 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:17AM (#13676277) Homepage
    I am not surprised, most users think "internet" Explorer" is the internet, so the fact that a "normal" user
    does not go out and download / install firefox. does not surprise me.

    on the otherhand, 7% + market share in such a short time is pretty good. and has firefox improves, (use less memmory) you will see improvments in the marget share. firefox has to be much better then "IE"

    for a normal user to switch to it, so the rapid marget will slow down and will creep up slowly...


  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:18AM (#13676284) Journal
    '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.'

    So you have to be a "MS hater" to see the disadvantages with IE now?

    Anyway, yes, it is expected something like this will happen, but I think not for that reason, but rather because there's a finite number of people willing to change browsers when there's already one part of the OS. Firefox being more secure? Sorry, they don't even read computer news sites.
  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BladeMelbourne ( 518866 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:18AM (#13676285)
    Close in numbers, but not close in the severity, or the number of unpatched exploits.

    If MSIE had approximately 97% usage at it's peak, and FireFox is now close to 8%, how could most of FireFox's market share come from Mozilla browsers and Opera? 97% + 8% != 100%
  • Stupid conclusions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:21AM (#13676318)

    Opera, for instance, now has to steal users from Firefox, not IE, since the pool of IE users willing to change has dried up.

    No, even if you accept the numbers, it means the pool of IE users willing to change to Firefox has dried up. It's pretty damn arrogant to assume that if Firefox isn't acceptable to somebody, nothing is. I use Firefox myself for the time being (roll on Konqueror 3.5 with Adblocking built in), but I'm not going to claim that it's perfect.

    One thing I can never find with these stories is how they come up with the figures. Examining httpd logs and using Javascript tricks is about as accurate as guessing. Do they conduct proper surveys or are they just another snake oil vendor? The fact that their website is broken in Firefox isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

  • Version 1.5 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shic ( 309152 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:22AM (#13676320)
    In my experience it is the Mozilla innovations which encourage people to switch... the better the features the more compelling the motivation to switch.

    Recently the released improvements to the Mozilla suite in the release products have slowed. I strongly suspect that version 1.5 will bring yet more people on-board. I'm using the Thunderbird 1.5 beta for my email right now and it is a fantastic improvement over the current release version.

    [Minor whinge] I wish I could print an email without all the irrelevant headers... preview what will be printed and (optionally) change the format.
  • Web Developers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mysqlrocks ( 783488 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:23AM (#13676347) Homepage Journal
    "For many, IE is just not broken," said Johnston in explaining the small dip in Internet Explorer.

    Yes, but for many web developers IE is broken. It's annoying having to write one set of code to run in the non-standard IE environment and then another set of code to work in the standards-based browsers. Take for example Alpha Transparency for PNG images. You can get it to work in IE by using Microsoft's method but you can't just slap a PNG in with alpha transparency and expect it to work in IE.
  • by MyDixieWrecked ( 548719 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:26AM (#13676379) Homepage Journal
    I mean...

    the number of web users is still growing rather rapidly. Even if their marketshare stays steady for many months, especially this time of year (I'll get to that in a sec), it still means that their userbase is growing.

    This time of year, school is starting. people are getting new computers or their first computers for themselves (finally, a computer that's not shared by the family!). There's a distinct spike in computer purchases around now. Firefox's 1% gain this month is a very good thing. it means that even though their marketshare growth is remaining constant, they're making up for it in volume.

    also, does their marketshare count only for windows installations? or does it count for all platforms? I mean, I know a bunch of mac users who , for some reason (usually because they're coming from windows), prefer firefox over safari.

    personally, I use firefox for testing on the mac. but that's about it. I still think safari is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of just the usability factor. firefox just feels like a windows app. Camino's ok, but feels a bit strange sometimes.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:33AM (#13676480)
    Firefox was supposed to be more secure than IE. But exploits for both browsers are close in numbers
    But because FireFox is not "integrated" with the OS, the vulnerabilities aren't as severe as those found in IE.

    Finding 1,000 different "vulnerabilities" that cause the app to crash does not equal 1 vulnerability that gives remote admin access to the machine.

    And that story only shows FireFox's adoption rate to be slowing. You can interpret that any way you want to. But if your interpretation is correct, then why is Microsoft introducing FireFox-like features in the next release of IE?
  • by Caffeinebot ( 826925 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:43AM (#13676604)
    I switched to opera simply because firefox is a damn memory hog and is clearly not optimized. I believe the same is true for thunderbird. Take alook at dillo (granted it adheres to a very strict html standard). The source for dillo is around 500kb and is the fastest webrowswer that I have compiled. I am sure that it is possible to make firefox much leaner than what it is now. Thunderbird vs sylpheed is similar (only comparing bloat vs basic functionality). The source code size for thunderbird is about 30mb while sylpheed is significantly less. Why are these programs so big? I might be wrong but it seems to me that there is alot of unecessary code in either mozilla products. Opera on the other hand starts in about half the time firefox does and feels much leaner. The mail client really stinks though, hence sylpheed.
  • Re:Web Developers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Evil Grinn ( 223934 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:44AM (#13676617)
    Yes, but for many web developers IE is broken.

    End users don't care what makes a developer's life easier. Businesses who have to pay for the extra time you waste futzing around with all that stuff might possibly be convinced to care, but end users for whom everthing is free anyway have no reason to care and they never will. Until the entire open source world realizes this, Microsoft doesn't really have anything to worry about.
  • Re:Fixed (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:50AM (#13676682)
    That may well be the most convoluted way to increment a variable that I've ever seen.
  • by Praxx ( 918463 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:52AM (#13676698)
    But because FireFox is not "integrated" with the OS, the vulnerabilities aren't as severe as those found in IE.

    Finding 1,000 different "vulnerabilities" that cause the app to crash does not equal 1 vulnerability that gives remote admin access to the machine.
    What difference does it make on a Windows machine? 99% of Windows users are running as "root" anyway - give me a vulnerability in FireFox, and I will get "remote admin access".
  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IDontAgreeWithYou ( 829067 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:52AM (#13676704)
    I am going to lose my mind. My goose and my moose have both gotten loose.
  • 16%, not 1.1% (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:56AM (#13676744)
    Looking at the numbers like that is a bit misleading. Going from 6.75% to 7.86% of total marketshare may be one thing, but it's a 16% increase in users.
  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsheridan6 ( 600425 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:57AM (#13676761)
    If MS was never worried about Firefox, why the public beta of IE 7? Originally, a new browser was supposed to be one of the selling points of Vista, and you would have to have Vista to get it. Now, while most of the other new stuff is too far behind schedule to make it into Vista, MS also had to release IE 7 to Windows 2000 users, leaving even less reason to upgrade. I don't see why they would do that unless they were worried. Justifiably so. Before Firefox, MSIE's market share was high enough that web developers would have soon abandoned standards and we would have had an MSIE only web (that process had already started). Now that won't happen anytime soon.

    And of course they're going to say they're not worried. PR guys would only say they're worried if it's raining frogs and the sky is falling. Maybe not even then.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:57AM (#13676767)
    I'm a big fan of Firefox, I love the small footprint

    Was that sarcasm again? This is getting confusing.

    Of the many reasons I love Firefox, and the many reasons I use it, "small footprint" is not one of them. It's a memory hog, and nobody can deny it. I use it because it's fast, powerful, and as feature-filled as I want it, not because it's slim...
  • Re:slows? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:07PM (#13676851)
    Use of the aging term "Micro$oft". (Note location of period.)

    In the United States, punctuation marks are always put inside of the quotation marks. It's different in some other countries, like Britain, but for American English the GP had it right.

  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:14PM (#13676926)
    It beats me why people still think that counting the vulnerabilities is of any value in determining the security of different browsers.

    because management tends to make decesions they should leave to people who know what they are doing, and management likes numbers.

    "Don't bother with the facts! Just give me details!"
  • by nbahi15 ( 163501 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:14PM (#13676929) Homepage

    I agree with the articles premise that most of the early adopters have been converted. The rest will be slow going but I believe Firefox can still achieve at least 25% of the browser market.

    At UNT College of Business, my school job, the lab group is just now rolling out firefox to all the lab computers. This represents a sizeable exposure for Firefox in a demographic that may soon make personal or corporate decisions about open source and browsers. I think it could be a good idea if the Mozilla foundation worked to get Universities offering Firefox as an alternative on every lab or kiosk machine on campus.

    I would also venture to believe lots of large corporate IT departments are just as slow to adopt new software, even when it works. I have also wondered how thorough the enterprise deployment software is for Firefox. Does firefox have adequate support for corporate or large scale installations?

  • FF Dominance myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shudde ( 915065 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:15PM (#13676942)

    While I'm a happy Firefox user, I tend to think it was a naive presumption that Firefox would ever directly battle IE for market-share dominance. People who thought it was a serious contender in this regard fail to understand the nature of the average internet user.

    I believe firmly in the technical superiority of Firefox. The developers have shown they take security seriously and the open-source model is continually proving itself with this application, not to mention the lack of integration into the OS which solves a number of IE woes. The extensibility of Firefox is another strength, allowing an element of customization to the non-technical user.

    Where I disagree with many, is claiming that Firefox will become dominant. Gone are the days when the internet was primarily composed of scientific/technical people. We're now a continually shrinking percentage of the population, which, as much as I decry certain aspects of the 'dumbing down', is as it should be. Mass adoption has brought down connection prices, broadened the services offered to us and released a flood of new information and technology.

    Firefox will continue to go from strength to strength, however the majority of new users and non-technical existing users will follow the Microsoft bandwagon. While the choice of a competing and IMHO superior browser is important to many of us, to the vast majority it's completely irrelevant. They have web access implemented in their operating system hence they see no need to even research browser alternatives.

    The real benefit of Firefox for the masses, is the adoption of it's strengths (tabbed browsing, etc.) into IE. For the rest of us, we can sit comfortably and support our own preferred browser.

  • by TheHornedOne ( 50252 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:20PM (#13676996)
    I know a lot of Windows users (and even me as a Mac OS X user) are annoyed by the fact that Firefox cannot auto-update itself, in place. If we assume that the servers are pretty secure, there is NO reason why Firefox can't download the necessary updates to patch this week's security vulnerability, install them in place while the browser is running, then pipe up when finished and ask the user to restart the browser. Hell, when it restarts, it could come back up to the same page the user was browsing when he/she quit a few seconds ago. This is a major flaw in Firefox and one that will invariably lead to people still surfing with Firefox 1.01 in 2007. It also just looks stupid, in contrast the the slickness of Apple's Software Update or even (gak) Microsoft's Windows Update.

    Firefox devs... any comments?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:28PM (#13677068)
    "Less patching"

    You're kidding right?

    FF has had more security holes in the last 6 months than IE. You sure as hell had BETTER be patching your father's machine and far more often than you'd need to for IE! Not to mention that you STILL have to "patch" windows regularly and that IE patches are rolled into the "Windows" patch releases so you normally wouldn't even know the difference. Patching FF requires a TON more work than patching IE does.

    Nothing bugs me more than people that don't know how to do the simple config steps that keeps IE safe from all spyware problems and instead do a cut and run install of FF on other people's machines believing that it'll prevent all computer problems forever and instead merely leave them open to an entirely new attack front :(

  • Microsoft haters? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Beer Moon ( 894244 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:28PM (#13677074)
    I didn't switch because I hate Microsoft, I switched because FireFox is modular and it's convenient for what I need to do. I think it's silly to paint people who want more functionality and only want to see what they need in their software interface as Microsoft haters. I would call us power users. I've tried to show my friends and family what's out there. Half of the people I show it to (somewhat un-savvy internet users) adopt it after seeing the tabbed browsing and installing a few extensions here and there. I think one way to market it to less tech-savvy people would be to create packages with some of the most popular extensions already installed.
  • by suman28 ( 558822 ) <> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:29PM (#13677081)
    As the article suggests, all the early adopters are already running Firefox. Now it is up to these folks to spread our little fox, because it does not have the advantage of coming preinstalled and tied into the OS, and besides, who's to say these numbers are accurate. Who is this WebSurf whatever...what is their motive, how much analysis have they done, and why. So, many questions.
  • Re:slows? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Da_Biz ( 267075 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:42PM (#13677213)
    So what if it slows.

    That, and there's an apparent fetish for Growth-Growth-Growth! It's sad that when the stock market doesn't see 15% returns annually in a company, it's automatically assumed that they aren't successful.

    It's not just about growth--it's also about quality of product and longevity. If Firefox maintains a steady percentage of the market, growth is implicit, as more people begin to use the Internet. I'd say the numbers they have now could be construed as adequate success, especially considering that Mozilla doesn't have the marketing buxxx that Micro$oft does.

    The numbers (and growth in adoption of Linux in government and the enterprise) tell me that Firefox is here to stay.
  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by krewemaynard ( 665044 ) <krewemaynard@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:46PM (#13677259)
    IE6 has also been around much longer (since Feb 2003) than Firefox (Nov 2004). You'd kinda expect the IE vulnerabilities to level off at some point. This guy picked one year to date, 2005. Come back when Firefox has the same maturity as IE, then we'll talk.

    Oh, and 3 out of 24 unpatched holes is way less than 20 out of 86, especially when some of the holes are rated "Less Critical" as opposed "Highly Critical." I think I'll stick with Firefox, thanks.
  • by NotoriousQ ( 457789 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:52PM (#13677328) Homepage
    I will call you on this.

    I think it is not that Americans do not like to tinker, it is that they do not like tinkering in the computers. A lot of this comes with where the people grew up, and what do they know. People like tinkering in what they can modify and show off. Because the computer here is not synonymous with communication or bragging rights, very few try to know and learn about them. (Notice how those that do, i.e. the gamer community, modify the crap out of theirs, and a lot of these stories seem to come out of US).

    I bet you will be interested to find that there is a huge car modding and tweaking community (people who replace and tweak engines, not tailpipes), which thinks that Europeans are completely ignorant about cars. I would guess that more Americans would now the difference between a carburator and fuel injection than Europeans. (I myself am not of that community, and have only a slight knowledge of carburator/fuel injection systems, I just heard of them)

    Different cultures, different interests, different results.

  • Re:not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by artemis67 ( 93453 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @01:40PM (#13677795)
    It's tough to compete against a browser that's preinstalled on every Windows PC out there.

    I think it's safe to say that Firefox has saturated its core market of tech savvy, security-conscious users. At this point, they need to reevaluate who their target market is and adjust their marketing strategy accordingly. After all, they were never going to get 95% marketshare simply by virtue of *not* being Internet Explorer. At this point, they need to get their foot in the door with one of the major PC vendors (Dell, HP, Gateway, et al) and get Firefox preinstalled on all new machines, and set up as the preferred browser. That's a tall order, considering the amount of influence MS has over these companies.
  • Re:Nothing new. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EvilMonkeySlayer ( 826044 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:02PM (#13677985) Journal
    Minor correction, IE 7 isn't being released onto Windows 2000.

    Microsoft want to force people onto XP and Vista.
    It's a bit of a mistake if you think about it, all those companies and people who'll soon start needing a new browser as more fancy html, css demands it and they're on Windows 2000. They can either worry about installing a new operating system and paying n amount of cash for it or they can simply download Firefox or Opera for free.

    Which would you do?
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:10PM (#13678084) Homepage
    If a web page can't be displayed by 10% of the people, its no biggie.

    The fact that they are 'artsy' types (OS X users) or 'propeller heads' (Linux users) just makes the decision that much easier if you'd selling socks or food or something.

    Never underestimate the power of 'saving a buck by screwing somebody' (somebody using the other browsers) when it doesn't really cost them anything.

    The sales figures are going up anyway. Or the site is just advertising and that's an expense regardless, and nobody ever got fired for saving a buck.

    I've got FireFox installed on all my boxes (1 AMD64 running Linux, 2 Macs running OS X and 1 old Win2k box crawling along,) but that's because I am paranoid and I really don't like IEs pop-ups.

    But that's just me.
  • by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:17PM (#13678161)
    2. they are one of those annoying people who hold an irrational hatred of microsoft.

    Hey, man—there is nothing irrational about my hatred of Microsoft!
  • Re:Right but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nachoboy ( 107025 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:53PM (#13678555)
    It's time firefox is also bundled in the new PC's /laptops which are sold out there into the market.

    Start catering to the scenarios that are important then... provide deployment tools and reference guides for unattended installation. Last time I was tasked with a (Windows) Firefox deployment, I found out that settings are stored in a random directory per-user. All pre-installation configuration had to be done by manually changing default values in the compressed original package. Settings and policies were just not available to be set via the registry (easy to script) or Group Policy (easy to manage).

    Despite what you may think about Microsoft's business practices, they have got the scenarios down. Both Windows and Office have OEM Pre-installation Kits, and products are designed with corporate and OEM deployment scenarios in mind, not just as an afterthought. At the very least, they don't *actively resist* large-scale deplyments by so rudely thumbing their noses at admins with settings stored in text files in randomly-named directories. Ugh.
  • by shudde ( 915065 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @04:43PM (#13679582)

    I agree with certain of your points, there are obviously a lot of similarities between Firefox and IE. That comparison could be applied to virtually every browser out there, as few large differences exist between any of them. However I think you've missed the single point that differentiates the two browsers the most, extensibility.

    For the geek, Mozilla offer documentation on how to develop your own Firefox extensions. The average user then has the option to pick and choose from the cream of other peoples work. UI enhancements, tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and to a lesser extent, security improvements can, and have, been picked up by IE.

    The fact remains that Microsoft have never demonstrated a culture that would be supportive of end-user 'hacks' to the browser, hence I think it would be a long, cold wait before we see true extensibility in IE.

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer