Firefox Loses Users and Websites
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 08 August 2022

Over the past few weeks Firefox has seen a steeper than usual decline in Monthly Active Users. Now the Canadian Credit Card company MBNA no longer lets its card holders log in to their accounts from Firefox - they are restricted to Chrome, Edge and Safari.

Firefox losing market share is something we used to report on a regular basis. The story only dropped off our radar in late 2020 when NetApplications.com stopped collecting and publishing the NetMarketShare data about browser usage. Back in May, when we ran the news that Edge had overtaken Safari to be second most widely used browser it was clear from the Statcounter graph that Firefox's share of the desktop browser market share had experienced a recent fall.

Now it is Firefox's own data that shows how the number of Monthly Active Users (MAU), which measures the number of Firefox Desktop clients active in the past 28 days, has varied since the start of 2019.

The chart shows seasonal dips corresponding to public holidays and the summer slowdown - and the decline at the far right of the chart going from 211,661,600 clients on June 6 to 192,419,600 on August 1 is consistent with this seasonal pattern. 

firefoxslump

The highest point in the chart is 253,877,800 clients on January 28, 2019 and the figures for the consecutive high summer dates are:

July 29, 2019 - 224,154,300

August 3, 2020 - 209,031,000

August 2, 2021 -196,327,000

so the trend is definitely going down.

To add insult to injury Hacker News now highlights the fact that MBNA a major credit card company no longer supports Firefox:

firefoxmbnabanner

Well it's rather worse than lack of support. The Firefox user alert  that appeared on the online account log-on page last month reads:

After August 1, you must use Chrome, Edge or Safaril to access MBNA online banking. Sorry!

It seems there might be a workaround. On the r/Firefox sub-Reddit which had already reported this news it was suggested that those affected should try spoofing the browser agent user string, substituting "chrome" for "firefox" and keep using Firefox. Of course this might not work if the site decides to use a more sophisticated way to discover which browser is connecting.

There has been much speculation as to why MBNA is doing this and the consensus appears to be laziness. It saves having to test how and upgrades or bug fixes work on Firefox and, as Edge is now based on the same engine as Chrome and Chrome and Safari have a lot in common under the hood, developers' workload is streamlined.

Another reason for discriminating against Firefox might be its insistence on privacy - if a website respects a visitor's request not to be tracked (and this. it transpires, is optional!) the amount of data you can harvest is reduced

So which should you change - your browser or your credit card company. The advice, or rather the plea, from both Hacker News and Reddit is not to abandon Firefox - but on the other hand there is also mounting evidence that MBNA isn't the only company writing Firefox off. One comment notes: 

I found the same thing when I went to renew my US passport on state.gov

> The following desktop browsers are supported on this site: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari (macOS only).

In addition, several devs reported that the they no longer include Firefox by default among the browsers they target and only do so if a customer specifically requests it.

Back in 2018 when Microsoft decided to use Chromium for Edge, I Programmer's editor Mike James predicted that this would only serve to consolidate its domination of the browser market and it is perhaps surprising that it has taken this long for tangible evidence to emerge. After all, why go to the trouble of extending testing to Firefox when the other browsers are all using the same layout engine. This could well be the start of the end for Firefox as it become increasingly acceptable to exclude is simply because the "big boys" do...

firefoxquantum

More Information

Firefox Public Data Report

Related Articles

Microsoft To Go Chromium.

NetMarketShare Bows Out

Edge Overtakes Safari To Be Second Browser

Chrome Takes Over Web - Blocks Edge

Firefox Use Slumps 85% Executive Pay Soars 400%

Mozilla Layoffs and Change of Focus

Leaked Mozilla Tax Return Causes Furore

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Last Updated ( Monday, 08 August 2022 )