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

| Luke Harris

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.

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