RIP Firefox???

One of the neatest thing about using a PC is the sheer abundance of choice. Take browsers for instance. Whilst Microsoft bundle Internet Explorer, you also have the option of installing Firefox, Opera, Safari or Chrome. Sadly choice in the browser game may soon be a little worse for wear as research done by Statcounter shows that Firefox has been steadily losing ground to other browsers over recent years with Firefox losing a third of its market share to Chrome, moving from around 30% market share down to 20%. Chrome isn’t mucking about either – It took Firefox more than four years to gain 20% market share at the expense of Internet Explorer; but Chrome is fast approaching 30% share in a mere three years.

So why are people choosing one browser over another? A key factor in the lemming like migration to Chrome appears to be word of mouth: Power users picked up on Chrome first, and have been installing it on the PCs of friends and family ever since.
Interestingly Microsoft also appears to have turned the corner as being an operating system manufacturer confers them with some unique advantages. When Windows 8 and the near biblical flood of tablets and touch screen enabled ultra-books hit the market, each will be sporting IE10 as its default browser, unsurprisingly Internet Explorer’s share will climb. Mozilla might be working hard to adding features to Firefox, and have launched Firefox for Android, but the big question is, will it be enough to keep Firefox from deaths door?

History could provide some answers. Firefox was created by those who weren’t happy with Internet Explorer 6?s stifling of the browser market. Many argued that IE effectively dampened web innovation for years and it was because of this that Firefox was created. Thanks to Firefox standards such as CSS and JavaScript gained critical mass. Equally significant, Firefox has also been credited with giving HTML5 critical mass. Ironically, it is because of Firefox that Chrome was created.

Back in the early days of 2008, most browser adopters were disgruntled Firefox users who wanted a slimmer and zippy alternative to an increasingly bloated Firefox. Whilst early iterations of Chrome had almost zero features, it didn’t matter – the only other choices were Internet Explorer or Firefox. Chrome was blisteringly fast and rock solid to boot. Mozilla may have has expended a significant amount of time and effort trimming Firefox down, but the numbers still show that this hasn’t resulted in a reversal of their fortunes .

So will Firefox’s declining market share see choice diminished? Chrome may be growing a rapid rate but this growth will eventually flatten out. More importantly whilst there are at least three other browser options slugging it out, no one single browser has enough power to monopolise the web, and it is possible that Mozilla could go back to what it does best and mobilise the user community at a grass roots level to reverse their ailing fortunes.

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