Why Firefox has lost 46 million users

Firefox, once considered the cool kid on the browser block – back when you were listening to Arcade Fire on your new iPod back in 2004 – has lost its lustre. 

At the end of 2018, over 244 million were using the browser but today there’s only 198 million active users left – according to Firefox’s own data report.

That’s down from the browser’s heyday when it attracted 32.21% of the browser market worldwide in 2009 and even for a short time overtook Internet Explorer 7.

While Firefox is still the default browser for Linux it seems the general internet user these days is quite happy with the default browser that comes with their device. 

Users who want to download Firefox have to make a conscious decision to do so and Firefox hasn’t helped itself with a UI update in March which changed how tabs appear in the browser and had websites with open tabs floating about the URL bar. 

Many users were confused by the lack of contrast between the active tab and the other tabs and reverted to an earlier version or left the browser entirely.

But maybe Firefox’s trouble stems from the fact that other browsers have just gotten a lot better over the last few years.

Chrome, although still a memory and battery hogger, boasts some of the best mobile integration available and, of course, it is the default browser for Android.

Similarly, the new Chromium-powered Microsoft Edge – the default web browser for Windows – has managed the impossible and made us forget how bad Internet Explorer often was (and it works faster than Chrome on a MacBook!) 

Today Edge delivers a fast, sleek browsing experience. 

New Zealand Firefox stats also tell a sad story – Firefox is down from 7.71% in 2020 to just 5.86% today on desktop according to StatCounter – out front by a mile is Chrome counting for 65.06%, with Safari coming in a distant second at 15.52% and Edge clocking in at 9.24%, almost doubling its market share in a year.

On mobile Firefox is irrelevant – claiming just 1.01% of the market – unsurprisingly Chrome (49.43%) and Safari (40.07%) lead the pack.

Firefox however is still a highly-regarded browser and has a good reputation, especially for its privacy and security features.

Indeed TechRadar crowned Firefox the best browser last month, commenting that – “Firefox has long been the Swiss Army Knife of the internet and our favourite browser. Version 90 is particularly good: it can alert you if your email address is included in a known data breach, it blocks those annoying allow-notifications pop ups, it blocks “fingerprinting” browser tracking and it brings its picture in picture video mode to the Mac version. As before it’s endlessly customisable both in terms of its appearance and in the range of extensions and plugins you can use.“

The fall in users impacts on Mozilla’s – the company behind Firefox – profitability.

Mozilla gains royalties through web browser search partnerships, chiefly from Google who pay Mozilla a substantial sum each year for allowing its search engine to be the default setting for search in Firefox.

Mozilla cut its workforce last year and reduced investment in some areas to “prioritise revenue-generating projects.”

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