Mozilla’s Firefox browser is struggling to stay alive, and while that isn’t much of a secret to the countless users who have long since made the switch to alternatives such as Google Chrome, a new report from Wired shines a light on how terribly the once-celebrated software is doing.
Echoing statistics from sources such as W3Counter, Firefox is reported to have fallen to an embarrassing 4% of the market, with mobile versions of the browser being used at an even more miserable half of a percent. Mozilla’s own public data report can even reveal that Firefox has managed to lose around 30 million monthly active users since the beginning of 2019.
Adding to the alarm are quotes from ex-Firefox employees who have suggested that the browser has zero hopes of surviving. “Chrome has won the desktop browser war,” said one individual who worked on Firefox’s development, while another called it unreasonable for Mozilla to “expect to win back even any browser share at this point.”
“They’re just going to have to accept the reality that Firefox is not going to come back from the ashes,” said another.
Mozilla is now hinging Firefox’s survival on different sorts of revenue streams, which include Pocket (a read-it-later service with paid premium subscription service) and VPN products. Some of Firefox’s developers say that an increased level of personalization is key to tempting users back to their browser and making it relevant again.
Is Firefox OK? (Wired)
- Next year, its lucrative search deal with Google—responsible for the vast majority of its revenue—is set to expire. A spate of privacy-focused browsers now compete on its turf, while new-feature misfires have threatened to alienate its base. All that has left industry analysts and former employees concerned about Firefox’s future.
- Mozilla and Google have a complicated relationship. While they may be competitors, they are also business partners. Each year Google pays Mozilla hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties—reports say that figure is currently in the range of $400 million per year—for its search engine to be set as the default in Firefox.
- The Google-Mozilla deal was last renewed in 2020 and is expected to expire in 2023. Stats show Firefox’s market share has dropped around 1 percent over the course of this agreement. The company’s own figures show its monthly active users have stayed stable at around 215 million. But there’s no guarantee Google will renew at the same level.