Firefox has hit a new five-year low in its share of the desktop browser market. Is this real and is it a cause for concern?
Firefox has been steadily losing market share to Chrome over a period of years but according to NetMarketShare May saw a more rapid fall for Firefox, together with an upturn for Chrome, leaving Firefox with 15.54 percent of the desktop browser market compared to 19.34% for Chrome. Meanwhile Internet Explorer's share remains solid at around 58%.
(click in chart to enlarge)
Some commentators are blaming Firefox's sudden turn for the worse on the damage done to Mozilla's reputation by the manner in which Brendan Eich left the organization shortly after being appointed its CEO. However, that was at the beginning of April and another factor that caused some to be users to be disgruntled, the introduction of sponsored ads, was back in February. What has happened more recently is the introduction of the new Australis interface which lots of people complained made it more like Chrome. Ironic then that its users should switch to Chrome to demonstrate their dissatisfaction!
Another reason for abandoning Firefox is that it has become less reliable. Is it just me, or have others found that Firefox crashes so often as to make it unworkable?
Looking at the NetMarketShare figures what I find surprising is the size of Internet Explorer's share. This doesn't tally with the traffic stats from this website. While our chart also indicates that Forefox's share is declining and Chrome's is increasing, it is Chrome that has approaching 60% share, Firefox has more than 20% and it is IE that is in third place in the chart with less that 10%.
StatCounter's statistics have a third version of the story with Chrome on the increase is heading towards 50%, Firefox falling last month to fallen to below 20% and IE, which had also been in decline recovering in June to 23%.
The discrepancies between the three sets of statistics can be explained by differences in methodology. I Programmer's figures are based on visitors to a single website and represent a technologically sophisticated audience; Statcounter measures total traffic - so its results are weighted by "heavy" Internet users whereas NetmarketShare attempts to measure unique daily visitors.
That Firefox is in decline is the one constant across all three charts and this is a worry since Mozilla is responsible for a lot that we regard as worthwhile in web development. Firefox is Mozilla's flagship product and Mozilla relies for its income on Google. Mozilla's current contract with Google expires in November so the next few months are crucial to the next round of negotiations.
So yes we should be concerned.