Why has Firefox growth slowed? I received a similar question in my inbox the other day, followed by this tidbit:
Despite all the publicity online and even big-media coverage, I’m still amazed at how many people I meet who have not the faintest idea Firefox exists. Even 20somethings at my office — a dot-com, fer cryin’ out loud. They just don’t know it’s out there.
It’s a good question, but you don’t have to look far to find the answer. Here’s an analogy: I have no idea what the latest and greatest is when it comes to server hardware; I’m in the industry, so maybe I should, but I just don’t care that much because it doesn’t generally affect me.
Last year I predicted that Firefox would have a 25% share of the market. Obviously I was off a touch, as I’d guess the actual numbers are only a bit more than half that at the moment. Still up from where they were when I made the prediction, but I was a bit optimistic. Spreadfirefox.com reports almost a hundred million downloads now, but big picture trends seem to indicate that Firefox has achieved maybe 15% of the market share amongst actual users, give or take 5%.
I figured the ongoing Windows security issues would continue to drive Firefox growth. But Microsoft has continued pushing out security updates, and let’s be honest, PCs are cheap enough to be disposable to a lot of consumers who can’t be bothered to fix them; a new PC with Windows XPSP2 will only run you a few hundred dollars. Beats paying $70 an hour for someone to remove spyware from your old one.
Still, double the market share in a year isn’t bad. 25% may yet be achievable, and if so, it makes Firefox a large enough force that your average non-standards aware web developer can no longer justify coding for IE-only. And that’s a start.
Okay, and since we’re talking web site statistics, I guess I need to clarify: yep, Site X probably does have a higher percentage of Firefox users. Stats vary from site to site; this one sees almost five times the number of Firefox users as it does Internet Explorer users for example. But your audience likely doesn’t represent the global market share, and that’s what we’re talking about here.
On the other hand, if you want to tell me the distribution of browsers coming into your site off search engine queries, that’s a far more interesting number.