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What's wrong with Firefox?

Firefox, a browser developed by Mozilla, has lost valuable market shares to Google Chrome and a resurgent Internet Explorer. Some analysts now wonder whether Firefox will rebound or go the way of Netscape.

By Matthew Shaer / August 3, 2010

For Firefox, times are grim.

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More bad news for Firefox: Internet Explorer, long the reigning king of the browser wars, is again gaining market share. According to NetApplications, the month of July was kind to IE, which grew globally by 0.42 percentage points. That's not exactly a major-league gain, but the trend for Microsoft has been a slow skid. Meanwhile, Firefox and Chrome both lost market shares – Firefox by 1 full percentage point.

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Here's how the numbers shook out in July: Internet Explorer claimed more than 60 percent of the market. Toward the other end of the spectrum was Apple's Safari browser, which ended the month with 5.09 percent. Google Chromea full-featured, highly-lauded browser – fell 0.08 percent to 7.16 percent of the market. Firefox placed second on the leader board, with 22.91 percent.

The numbers are disconcerting for Mozilla and its star browser, but not entirely surprising. In recent months, Firefox has been panned for problems with its downloadable extensions and add-ons, which can be sluggish and unwieldy.

Over at PC World, Ken Hess finds an even bigger reason to worry about the future of the browser. "Firefox is also so notoriously slow that on older systems, it’s almost unusable or it takes so long to open that you find yourself clicking the icon multiple times," Hess writes, "thinking that your original launch didn’t take for some reason."

In March of this year, NetApplications released data showing that Firefox had seen its market share fade for three consecutive months – a first for the once ascendant browser. "[I]f the last three months are any indication, Firefox will never hit that 25 percent market share mark that looked all but certain just a few short months ago," Emil Protalinski of Ars Technica wrote at the time.

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