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Firefox: Mission Accomplished

Posted by: Steve Hamm on October 11, 2006

When the folks from Mozilla prepared to launch their open-source Firefox 1.0 browser two years ago, their hope was to gain enough market share to compel Web sites to adopt open standards—rather than standardizing on Microsoft’s proprietary Internet Explorer browser technology. Job done. Firefox has anywhere from a 10% to 18% worldwide market share among browser users, depending who is counting, and almost every Web site that matters makes it possible for Firefox users to fully access their pages. The turning point came earlier this year when banks and financial services outfits including American Express and Fidelity switched over. Now, with the impending arrival of the Firefox 2.0 browser, you can expect Firefox to gain even more share and make it even more difficult for Microsoft to call the shots, technology-wise, on the Web.

Firefox 2.0 is expected to arrive in late October or early November--whenever it's ready. But demand for the older version doesn't seem to be slackening in advance of the release. Chris Beard, vp of marketing and product management, reports that Mozilla is averaging about 350,000 downloads a day from its site, up from about 200,000 per day a year ago. Mozilla figures it has about 70-80 million active users. Most of them are in the early-adopter and Web 2.0 crowd, but there's also evidence that people within large enterprises are using the product. The peak use day for Firefox is Wednesday--indicating that people are using it at work.

One of the keys to Firefox's initial success was its community marketing initiative. People signed up to help market and distribute the software via their Web sites or blogs, and contributed to help pay for advertisements in mainstream media outlets. The organization now has 180,000 registered community marketing volunteers. One contest last year resulted in 300 video commercials being produced--some of which have appeared on YouTube and other popular video sharing sites. Beard's now trying to figure out how to get some of the commercials aired on cable TV and other video outlets.

Firefox is one of the best proof points I have seen that viral marketing works.

Reader Comments

Nick S

October 13, 2006 8:42 PM

Mr. Hamm-

You must also consider the role that educational facilities are playing in spreading Firefox -- a factor that I am sure is boosting the Wednesday usage figure you mentioned in your article. I am currently a student at the Auraria Campus in Denver, CO which combines three large colleges in metro area. From my inquiry, it seems that all of the computers in labs throughout campus have a copy of Firefox installed, including Macs. This campus alone has a student body of over 40,000, and I am sure the same trend is taking place across the globe.

Honest Take

October 14, 2006 8:33 AM

Firefox may have very well reached its peak. Technical reviews of the new 2.0 such as the one in eWeek have actually been more like complaints of features lost, and the open source "community" is fracturing with a clone of Firefox now being released by Richard Stallman called Iceweasel.


October 14, 2006 9:30 AM

FireFox is so GOOD that even Microsoft gave in to admit that it's GOOD.

Uno Engborg

October 14, 2006 10:28 AM

I would expect that the growth rate slows when IE7 gets out. Firefox may still be the better browser, but there is far less difference between IE7 and Firefox 2.0 than there was between IE6 and Firefox 1.5. My guess is that many users will find the preinstalled IE7 good enough.

I really think the Mozilla people could have done better. E.g. why not include XForms support by default. That would have been a good way to make it easy to create highly interactive intranet applications, an area where IE has dominated so far. Having XForms as a plugin is not good enough as it creates more jobs for the admins.


October 14, 2006 7:59 PM

Honest Take is either misinformed or spreading misinformation. It's not Richard Stallman releasing Iceweasel, it's the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. Debian is simply adhering to the Mozilla term that if they do not include the original artwork, they have to call it something else. This facility to rebrand is standard in the Mozilla build process. Firefox is not fracturing. Maybe you wish it were so.


October 14, 2006 10:15 PM

I hope Mobile360 is correct in saying that there's little difference in IE7 and Firefox. I hope the similarity he's talking about is with regard to standards compliance. The problem with IE, and MS stuff in general, is that MS insists on implementing it's own proprietary standards and shutting everyone else out. If IE7 uses industry standards then it won't make any difference which browser users prefer. They can peacefully co-exist. But that's not the MS way of doing business. The monopoly can't exist in a cooperative world. If cracks in the monopoly continued to appear, watch out below. MS will crumble like the Twin Towers.


October 15, 2006 1:30 AM

You must be joking about the IceWeasel thing. IceWeasel is simply going to be the Debian-supported version of Firefox. Given the fact that Debian is slow to fix bugs, most people will probably just use Firefox. Besides, that only affects the (not even) 1 percent of the computing populace that uses GNOME-based or xcfe-based Debian or Ubuntu. Firefox's target in terms of growth is on the Windows platform, against IE6 or IE7.

Honestly, the whole thing hurts Linux the most. One selling point for Ubuntu (the fastest growing Linux distro, and supposedly the easiest to use one) is that most of your software is the same on Linux as it is on Windows (OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird). This hinders that.


October 15, 2006 5:13 AM

Less difference between IE7 and FF2? The regular updates and patches on Firefox is what IE is seriously lacking.


October 15, 2006 6:04 AM

Its SAFER - Doh!


October 15, 2006 9:04 AM

Opera is so much better than either :)

Non Tech

October 15, 2006 9:21 AM

As google took off with the general users because it was perceived as simpler and "better". So firefox is growing because it is perceived as hack, pop up, virus free. Every patch problem Microsoft has is just more free advertising for Firefox.


October 15, 2006 10:30 AM

How to delete all cookies in Firefox on closing, EXCEPT for those from selected domains!
Firefox doesn’t seem to have a ‘Delete all cookies except the following’ feature under a fancy button entitled ‘Delete all cookies except the following feature’. But here is the way to do it without installing any add-ins or extensions


October 15, 2006 10:28 PM

Thats such great news for Firefox. I switched from IE a long time ago, but not for Firefox, the older Mozilla browser.

Microsoft needs competition, it went far too long without it and now we're seeing the consequences with their lack of updates and patches on their vulnerable software.

Has anyone noticed that when you search Firefox on MSN search, it doesn't show up until the second page? Convenient? I think so!

But congratulations to Firefox - I found it from playing Marapets Games ( It did them a lot of good teaming up with Google!


October 16, 2006 11:45 AM

Sorry, Firefox addicts, but Opera is so much better, I laugh whenever I hear how "great" FF is. FF STILL can't retrieve/display my Yahoo start page, or several others I go to on a regular basis. Opera has NEVER had a problem with any page I've visited (except for some of the pages on MS's site). FF is massive hype for the anti-MS crowd to glom onto. Just because it's the new media "darling" doesn't make it the best thing out there.
Leave the Fox at home and go to the Opera!

Honest Take

October 16, 2006 9:29 PM

wildpossum I am only speaking the truth. From "GNU, which is a recursive acronym that stands for GNU is Not Unix, first set out in 1984 to develop a Unix-like operating system as Free Software. It is now gearing up to provide a 'free' version of Mozilla's (not-so-free) Firefox browser. The GNU version is called IceWeasel and is part of the GNUzilla effort from GNU. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is the principal sponsor of the GNU Project." These are Stallman's groups not Debian. He is also fracturing 'the community' with the new GPL license as well, this is unfortunate for Linux and open source in general.


October 24, 2006 7:41 PM

As a user of Firefox 1.5, I was surprised by the high quality of IE7. IE is no longer an "easy pushover".


February 3, 2007 10:21 AM

Opera better? Are you nuts? Maybe I'm out of touch since I haven't used it in years but Opera would NOT render many web pages anywhere faithfully to remain functional or, at the very least, displays them in a highly disorganized and confusing manner.

c keene

August 30, 2007 4:39 PM

I have been going back and forth between Firefox and IE a lot recently, and am struck by the speed difference - Firefox smokes and IE chokes!

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