Firefox’s popularity is dying, and that’s not okay

I’m known for having an intense, burning hatred for Firefox. Poor performance, the old way Sync worked, and other little quirks with it annoyed me to the point where I would actively search for other people on Twitter having issues with Firefox, and convince them to switch to Chrome. I don’t regret that. But I don’t like the way things are now.

Despite all of Firefox’s shortcomings and the issues I have with it, it’s not completely bad. I like the tab management, I like the text rendering, and I like the smoothscrolling. I like how versatile and more feature-rich the addons are. And I like how passionate and vocal the community is, and how Mozilla makes sure that it’s obvious that the community is vocal.

Which is completely unlike Google, where the community may be vocal but you don’t see it anywhere, rather they inhabit the dark corners of a Google Group or Google+.

Chrome is fast. I still consider it faster than Firefox in many ways, and superior. And as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t like how Firefox’s marketshare is dropping considerably these days. And I don’t like how Chrome is increasingly dominating the market in not only marketshare, but also in sites and services which solely support Chrome. However, part of that is Mozilla’s fault.

The reason it’s Mozilla’s fault that Firefox is losing marketshare is because of multiple mistakes Mozilla has made in succession. Mozilla decided to stop focusing exclusively on Firefox and decided to launch a mobile OS, dubbed Firefox OS. I have been very vocal on Twitter and Google+ about FFOS being a bad move for Mozilla, as it’s built on the aging Gecko engine and it’s taking resources away from developing Firefox.

Not only that, but Mozilla decided to start packing on the bloat with stuff such as their “Web IDE” and expanding the built-in dev tools to function with Firefox OS, and both of those features would have worked better as a plugin, instead of adding bloat to what was once dubbed one of the most lightweight browsers out there.

And let’s not forget how, starting with Firefox 4, Mozilla has been playing catch up with Chrome and even the old Opera in some ways. Mozilla copied Opera’s design in Firefox 4, then copied Google’s release cycle for Chrome starting with Firefox 5, which caused a lot of disruption and anger from users. Then, Mozilla obviously ripped off Chrome’s UI with Firefox 29, which definitely didn’t help. Users were even more angry, and confused, and while numerous addons surfaced to deal with the “problem” that the failure known as Australis was referred to as, the storm didn’t calm. It only became stronger as on release day, many tech sites referred to the new Firefox version as a “Chrome clone”.

There’s probably more mistakes Mozilla made to turn their loyal fans away, but these are the major ones in my opinion. Despite the problems, and Mozilla’s mistakes, I don’t want Firefox to fade away just yet. Chrome doesn’t completely meet my needs, and while Firefox still doesn’t, I believe if Mozilla completely dropped all the crap they’re doing with Firefox OS, and got serious about making Servo happen and creating an original UI, not an inspired clone of another popular browser, then maybe Mozilla has a chance of recovering from the deep hole they dug for themselves way back in 2011.

If Mozilla fails to deliver, then Firefox will just become another relic of a bygone era, just like Netscape and Opera. And I hope another browser (not based on Webkit and its forks) rises up to take its place and improve where Mozilla failed to do so.

7 thoughts on “Firefox’s popularity is dying, and that’s not okay”

  1. I’m surprised Luke, you supporting Firefox in a way. I feel that they could come back but I don’t think I’ll be using their browser anytime soon. Why do you want them to stay and not something like IE (cringe) or Safari? Actually, there really aren’t that many good browsers left – are there…

    • Haha, yeah this is different for me. I want them to stay because I think Mozilla still has it in them to do something, they’re not really weighed down by corporate agendas like the IE team is and Apple wants to keep everything on their platform.

      And yes, I am noticing a big lack of alternative good browsers. The other options are based on Webkit/Blink (Chrome) or Gecko (Firefox).

      • So you really only want options for the sake of options, despite them being crappy options? Fair enough I guess. If Firefox was better they could provide competition, but atm they are just an option. But why choose vegetables when you can have pizza, right?

      • Furthering my previous statement, I feel that Opera’s new project Permeation will definitely make them better than every other browser, even Chrome. Did you see those sleek UI mockups? Also, the tab system can support a rumored “50” tabs before it even begins to show lag. Organization is still under development but the browser will use half the RAM of any browser, but utilizes in such a way that active pages take up most of the RAM and pages in the background are sort of “frozen” even though they continue loading.

        Not a developer so sorry if I can’t quite explain it too well. But they say that it will be at least 20x faster than whatever browser you’re using now.

      • Interesting, been waiting for Opera to finally get back to its innovative self. Where can I find more info on that project? Can’t seem to find anything on it.

        I can run hundreds of tabs in Chrome with no issues, but then again I do have an above-average PC. The problem is being able to get to those tabs, because depending on the width of your screen, 20-30 tabs in one Chrome or Opera window is really painful.

  2. As long as Mozilla is making a Chrome clone… their market share is not recovering. What Mozilla has to do is move away from Google and go to Microsoft or Apple for sponsoring. Staying with Google means accepting their Corporate Design and Corporate Identity rules which shows it’s ugly face in making the browser look like Chrome and killing customizations.

    As long as Mozilla is not understanding that this restrictions are no healthy ones, no one can help them getting back to track again. Or even better.. Cancel projects like Firefox OS and accepting that being a “Geek Browser with tons of features inside” is nothing bad and that it is not necessary to be under the top ranked market share browser to make a good stand.

    But again, for this they must send Google to hell once and for all. But i know that is more easier to be said and done, once Google has someone in reach, they do not let it go.

    Opera can also sing a song about that….

    But what can the user do… Vote with the feet, Stop using Google and Mozilla and go to browsers like Midori, Qupzilla, Maxthon or Pale Moon and Seamonkey or Slimjet – some browsers of that ones are Chromium based, but because they are not in Google’s hands they can offer features, a special design and customizations. Perhaps if Firefox market share is shrinking even more and Google realizes they have no benefit from Mozilla anymore they let them go.

    Just spread it, dump Firefox and make Google not reach their goal!

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