As Mozilla talks up Firefox’s future, the present is killing it

    Mozilla final week took the weird step of issuing a brief video replace on its Firefox browser, declaring it desires to “help users get the best out of the Web” with “suggestions that help people find items from their history, places they frequently visit and web content most relevant to them.”When posted to YouTube, the under-two-minute message was largely panned by commenters as imprecise, a advertising spiel, and a head-in-the-sand refusal to acknowledge suggestions from customers.Meanwhile — and maybe not coincidentally — a thread on Reddit begun two days earlier than the video hit identified that the browser had misplaced 50 million month-to-month lively customers (MAUs) within the final two-and-a-half years.What’s occurring? Is Firefox in an existential disaster?Let’s take it chronologically.Lousy numbersOn Reddit’s Linux sub-Reddit, Mozilla’s behavior of dropping customers kicked off a thread of greater than 2,000 messages. “Firefox lost 50M users since 2019. Why are users switching to Chrome and clones?” requested u/nixcraft on July 31, citing Mozilla’s personal MAU (Monthly Active Users) information, which tracks the variety of desktop purchasers launched at the very least as soon as prior to now 28 days.Firefox’s MAUs are in worse form than that.From Jan. 27, 2019, to Aug. 1, 2021, Firefox shed 57.5 million MAUs, representing a discount of about 23%, or almost 1 / 4. That’s a precipitous decline for a browser with no fats on its consumer base bones.To anybody paying consideration, Firefox’s decline was no shock. For years, Computerworld had recurrently reported on the battles for browser dominance, and as a story-within-that-story, famous a gradual shrinking of Mozilla’s share.Computerworld relied on information from NetApplications, a California metrics vendor that tracked browser utilization by tallying agent strings reported to the web sites of its prospects. But in late 2020, NetApplications stated it was pulling the plug on the information supply.(At the tip of October 2020, when NetApplications introduced the tip of its browser utilization information assortment, Firefox’s share stood at 7.2%.)In actuality, NetApplications didn’t halt publication of browser utilization numbers. From November 2020 by way of July 2021, the latter the latest, the corporate continued to submit month-to-month outcomes. (Computerworld requested the corporate final 12 months to elucidate the disparity, however by no means acquired a reply.)That current information confirmed Firefox persevering with its advance towards zero. At the tip of July, for instance, Firefox’s share had dwindled to 5.6%, marking the second straight month at a sub-6% mark. (Back in November, Computerworld forecast that Firefox would slip below the 6% bar by August 2021.) If Firefox stays on its past-12-month development, the browser might slip below 5% by the tip of this 12 months and beneath 4% by August 2022.As if Mozilla’s MAUs weren’t dangerous sufficient, NetApplications’ numbers trumped them spectacularly. From January 2019 to July 2021, Firefox’s utilization share plummeted by greater than 43%, almost double the MAU downturn.Other browsers are in a nasty approach — after a face-saving climb within the second half of 2020, Apple’s Safari is now again to the place it began 12 months in the past — however Firefox is a particular case, because it’s the one one of many Top Four not tied in a technique or one other to the applied sciences that energy Chrome. Some worry that, absent Firefox and its Gecko rendering engine, Chrome wins the struggle by default.(It’s laborious to not see Chrome because the winner, even with Firefox hanging on; Google’s browser accounted for 73.2% of all browser exercise in July by NetApplications’ measurements.)You guys have misplaced the plotMozilla’s video-format replace on Firefox was quick on concrete particulars — simply one of many criticisms from commenters — however appeared to portend some AI-like additions and enhancements to the browser.”We want to build experience[s] that are smart enough to know what users are trying to accomplish and powerful enough to do it,” stated Selena Deckelmann, senior vp of Firefox. Earlier in her message, Deckelmann had — as already famous — ticked off a number of the particular methods Firefox would possibly  accomplish that aim. “We’ve been asking ourselves, ‘What can the browser do to help people navigate today’s Internet?’ We’re starting to experiment with suggestions that help people find items from their history, places they frequently visit and web content most relevant to them.”Deckelmann additionally delved into the previous to tout the current UI (consumer interface) and UX (consumer expertise) overhaul of Firefox that debuted in v. 89 and the close to future, declaring that, “This is the start of the journey for us here at Firefox.”Commenters, even those that recognized themselves as longtime Firefox customers, have been unimpressed.”This sounds more like a vague marketing strategy rather than an update video,” complained somebody recognized as UberRam.”So…what was it you wanted to update us about, then? Because the video is over, I still have no clue, but somehow I’m more uneasy than before watching it,” reported adior8ot0s.Others have been extra particular of their critiques. “So instead of keeping it solid and up to date, like implementing web app standards, you’re going to implement black box AI that goes against values of privacy to make shopping easier?” queried hanger1800. “You guys have completely lost the plot, RIP firefox.””20 year long Firefox user. I’m close to quitting since all these changes for the sake of changing perfectly working things are getting out of hand,” stated omma911.However, some commenters caught up for the browser.”I have been a Mozilla Firefox user all my life and while I haven’t always agreed with all the decisions made at the foundation I’m glad you’re still around and trying to make the web better,” commented DraconianKindness. “I would like to see Mozilla start to decrease its reliance on Google’s money in the form of selling a suite of services by subscription model.”But the remark that took the prize as most provocative was simply this: “This video will be remembered when people ask, “Whatever occurred to Firefox?” wrote Jrakup.

    Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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