back to article Firefox doesn't need to be No 1 – and that's OK, 'cos it's falling off a cliff

Just in case you didn't believe Firefox was on a trajectory that should have it crash and burn into extinction in the next couple of years, former chief technology officer Andreas Gal has usage stats that confirm it. To use Gal's words: "Firefox market share is falling off a cliff." The same could be said of Firefox itself. …


  1. frank 3

    more needed than ever

    And when the googlopoly becomes apparent even to the meanest intelligence, it will be there to pick up the mantle, probably under a different name and in a different form.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: more needed than ever

      Indeed. Chrome is more riddled with spyware than Windows 10.

      1. Jonathan 27 Silver badge

        Re: more needed than ever

        I think it's funny that you should make that reference, seeing as the spyware in Windows 10 is a reaction to all the spyware in Android and iOS. Google is the big daddy of spyware, not Microsoft.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: more needed than ever

          Which spyware in iOS would that be? Apple is not collecting your personal information to stick ads in your face like Google is with Android. Well, unless you believe conspiracy theories that Apple's privacy policy is a lie and that they are collecting personal information on users just to be bastards, even though they have almost no presence in the online advertising world that would allow them to actually use that personal information.

        2. Updraft102

          Re: more needed than ever

          Android and iOS are mobile OSes. Windows 10, despite Microsoft's delusions, is not in any meaningful way a mobile OS. Comparing a PC OS to a mobile OS is like comparing apples and doctors.

          1. Def Silver badge

            Re: more needed than ever

            Windows 10, despite Microsoft's delusions, is not in any meaningful way a mobile OS.

            Actually, it's a very capable mobile OS that is also an excellent desktop OS. Which is more than can be said for iOS and Android. Windows 10 might not be very popular right now (in the mobile space, I mean), but I think that could change when the new phones are announced.

            And cue haters...

            1. Updraft102

              Re: more needed than ever

              It has never changed before when the new phones were announced; why would it be any different now? People want a nice library of apps to download, and it still isn't there.

              What Windows 10 mobile is capable of isn't really the issue. The issue is that Windows 10 is about 99% PC (again, I count x86 convertibles as PCs) and 1% mobiles (charitably). Trying to copy a 100% mobile OS (iOS) and superimpose that onto a market that's 99% PCs is nuts.

              Windows 10 may be _capable_ of being a great mobile OS, but by the same token, I am _capable_ of being a pilot, or a nurse, or a bricklayer. I'm not any of those things, though, and until I am, it's rather pointless to consider what I could be if things weren't the way they actually are. Until Windows 10 mobile gets some numbers, Windows 10 is a PC OS... that looks and acts like a phone OS.

            2. Wayland Bronze badge

              Re: more needed than ever

              Windows 10 Mobile?

              Well they keep amputating old bits of Windows so eventually it will work on an Arm. But then eventually Arm will replace the x86.

              I think it's rather good we have two very different hardware platforms, Arm and PC. Linux works on both as if there is no difference.

          2. Chris 155

            Re: more needed than ever

            Yes and no.

            Most of Microsoft's "Spying" is feature analytics to allow then to improve their product. Google and Apple know so much more about what parts of the system their users use an how they use them than Microsoft does simply because of the huge amounts of information that they're siphoning up. It's very difficult for them to compete without that information.

            Beyond that, aside from the fact that you're used to spying on mobile, there's really no functional difference. Most of what Google and Apple grab from you aren't necessary to deliver a mobile platform any more than they're necessary to deliver a desktop platform. You're not comparing apples and doctors at all. You're comparing an invasion of your privacy that you've become accustomed to and one you haven't, no more, no less.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: more needed than ever

              "Most of Microsoft's "Spying" is feature analytics to allow then to improve their product".

              Then why haven't they done so?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Chris 155

              Wow, quite the Microsoft apologist here. First you try to conflate Apple with Google on "siphoning up information", then you claim the only reason Microsoft is doing it is to improve the product (versus evil Google and Apple which aren't so kind and wonderful as Microsoft)

              Pull the other one!

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: more needed than ever

          "Google is the big daddy of spyware, not Microsoft."

          Yeahbut! Two wrongs don't make a right, innit!

          1. Chemical Bob

            Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

            While that is true, I would like to point out that three lefts do make a right.

            1. Sam Adams the Dog

              Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

              @Chemical Bob: "I would like to point out that three lefts do make a right."

              Especially in radical politics.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: more needed than ever

        Please cite your sources, other than pulling out your ass....

        You can also centrally control and opt out of everything.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: more needed than ever

          Re: You can also centrally control and opt out of everything. (

          Click on that link and what do you see ? Something saying "sign in" !

          Yeah, erm.. no thanks... "opt-out by giving us all your data first" , no thanks !

    2. cd / && rm -rf *

      Re: more needed than ever

      "pick up the mantle, probably under a different name and in a different form"

      Already done.

      Firefox without the bloat. Built on Firefox sources, so most add-ons run too. Used in combination with uBlock Origin and NoScript, websites load in the blink of an eye with no annoying crap.

      1. Sebastian A

        Re: more needed than ever

        This is what I switched to. Not Chrome. Certainly not Edge. I switched because Firefox is a miasma of constantly shifting UI elements and unwanted features. I just want clean. Lean. Fast. Customizable.

        I don't need the bazillion other pieces of crap, and I don't need to have options removed. That's a Microsoft thing, and I hate them for it too.

      2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

        Re: more needed than ever

        > Already done.

        Yup, default here. A pity their version of Thunderbird, Fossamail, has been discontinued.

        And if you really want Chrome but correctly distrust Google, Chromium is available. If your tin foil hat still retains a charge with Chromium. the iridium browser project may be to your liking -

      3. Fred Goldstein

        Re: more needed than ever

        I like Pale Moon and I'm using it to write this reply. But it is not the simple Firefox rebuild that it once was. It started as a fork of a version of Firefox that kept the add-on bar at the bottom, among other things. But they've rewritten a lot since then. It's now very much its own browser, just one that looks like what Firefox used to look like, and still has some things Firefox gave up.

    3. Oh Homer
      Big Brother

      Re: more needed than ever

      My biggest gripe with Chrome is Google's tendency to arbitrarily block extensions it doesn't like, typically because they're antithetical to Google's spammy business model.

      This is further compounded by Google then prohibiting the installation of extensions from outside its concentration camp, essentially banning you from doing anything at all without der Führer's approval.

      Sorry, but some glorified spammer doesn't get to dictate how I choose to interact with the Web.

      Mozilla has severely annoyed me in the past (endless breakage and missing features between releases, ridiculous version bumps, stripping the UI to the point where it's useless, etc.), but nothing ever came close to Google's brazenly totalitarian tactics (with one possible exception).

      Ultimately I don't really like either company or their respective browsers, but Firefox is marginally the lesser of two evils (for now), and generally more full-featured and compatible than the more obscure alternatives.

      Frankly, I really wish that something better would come along, so I can finally stop channel-hopping between them, in an endless game of dodge-the-bullet. When the hell is someone going to make a browser designed to do what the users actually want, as opposed to what the autocratic developers think they ought to want?

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: more needed than ever


      2. kb
        Thumb Up

        Re: more needed than ever

        There is something IMHO better...its called Comodo Dragon and Icedragon. One is built on Chromium, one on Gecko. You can run any extension you like, you can choose to use the Comodo DNS (which I find incredibly good at blocking sites that have been infected with malware before they load) baked in or not, it has built in IP/DNS leakage detector (again removable if you don't want it with a single click), media downloader (again one click uninstall if you don't want it) and after using them for 2 years I can attest they are rock solid and the only issue they had (Privdog) was removed over a year ago so is no longer an issue.

        Its a shame what has happened with Firefox but thanks to having Dragon and IceDragon its not affected me or my customers and if FF goes away tomorrow? We'll still have dragon and IceDragon.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: more needed than ever

      and at least in Firefox I can get the "classic" appearance back.

      1. I *FORNICATING* *HATE* hamburger menus

      2. I like 3D COLOR buttons, not FLATSO GREY ones

      3. buttons should have a 3D border, and 'press' when you click them

      4. tabs should have a somewhat 3D appearance, too

      I can get ALL of that with FF addons that (thankfully) make it look like FF looked 3 years ago. The 2D FLATSO makes me want to *VOMIT* and I can't work while CHOKING BACK ALL OF THE PUKE!

      Chrome *COMPLETELY* gets it *WRONG* with the 2D FLATSO look. I *HATE* it.

      And I miss the OTHER really cool plugins, like NoScript, Cookie whitelist (with buttons), and Video Download Helper, which make Firefox way more secure (and let me download and save youtube videos instead of watching them skip while downloading at lousy connection speeds).

      The FreeBSD "ports" Makefile shows a TON of library dependencies for Chrome, MANY more than Firefox. Firefox's source file is a bit more than 200Mb (as a .txz). Chrome has 2 files (the 2nd of which is 'test data' apparently) totalling ~612Mb. The test data is a little over 100mb.

      I think the source file sizes and lib dependencies really tell the story about how much *BLOAT* that Chrome has, compared to Firefox.

      1. Een8nope

        Re: more needed than ever

        Well, I like a flat UI. I hate transparent windows, window stripes, round 3d bubbly buttons as well as square glossy ones. I hate visual elements that have nothing to do with functionality.

        Unfortunately, Flat UI themes seem to have degenerated to hard to interpret interfaces, with overuse of padding, low contrasting elements, and almost no information visible. You can extrapolate that it will all become a white page with a grey icon in 3 years time.

        Firefox is riding this trend at full speed, not only in it's increasingly minimal useless interface, but also in its minimal features that have to be supplemented with a bag full of extensions to actually make it work as expected, thus no longer being extensions, but requirements.

        Thunderbid is in a more advanced stage of this disease.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: more needed than ever

      "... when the googlopoly becomes apparent even to the meanest intelligence..."

      That will be never. Even quite considerable intelligences are routinely fooled by marketing on a daily basis. There's also what Larry Ellison said in 2008:

      "The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?"

      Firefox has become too old, too familiar, and frankly too reliable. Chrome seems new and (pardon me) shiny to millions who have no way of knowing better.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: more needed than ever

      Not that Firefox is bad, but Firefox came to the front for two reasons - tabs and speed. Now everyone has tabs. You can debate if Chrome or Firefox is faster and under which conditions, but Firefox definitely isn't clearly faster... as it was as compared to IE years ago. The two problems it fixed are no longer problems. Chrome has the extension ecosystem, which is something Firefox largely missed even when it was larger than Chrome. I don't think this is all just Google having the websites. It's definitely an advantage but not decisive. Microsoft has/had crazy control over Windows and uses it to advantage IE/Edge... and people go out of their way to download Chrome and, before that, Firefox.

  2. Lost In Clouds of Data


    Oh, so your the other person who uses Vivaldi (also my preferred browser of choice)!

    1. The Corner of Moron

      Re: Finally!

      It is mine also, that makes a grand total of three people I know using it.

      Hands up everyone!

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Finally!

        I use Vivaldi too - mainly for its vertical tab implementation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Finally!

        It is mine also, that makes a grand total of three people I know using it.

        Another Vivaldi user here - that said, I use in total 5 browsers*, and still none of them is Chrome (and before you ask, no, I'm not a web developer)..

        * Safari, Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi and Omniweb

      3. K

        Re: Finally!

        Hands down the best power-user browser.. Only thing that stop me using it full time are

        - No Google account sync (XMark is not so good, found it crashing Vivaldi and not syncing)

        - Tearing off tabs is incredibly slow compared to Chrome and Firefox (take 2-3 seconds to re-appear)

        1. Updraft102

          Re: Finally!

          Vivaldi doesn't even have a fraction of the customizability features I require. I tried to get it into a configuration that would work for me, but it wasn't possible from within the UI itself, and I wasn't interested enough to find out if there are more things that can be done outside of the UI. It may have more options than any other browser out of the box, but I don't use any of them in that configuration anyway.

          Nothing comes close to Firefox with a full complement of extensions as far as customizability... the one and only thing Firefox still does better than anyone else. It's not faster, smoother, more secure, or better on memory (as far as I know). It has the most powerful addons, and the largest library of them of any browser.

          So, naturally, killing that off and adopting Chrome extensions is next on the Firefox suicide plan.

          Back when I was using Mozilla Suite, when a handful of Mozilla devs decided to fork the browser component from within the Suite and make a standalone, lean and mean browser, the goal was to fight the corporate giant trying to dominate the web. Back then it was Microsoft. The devs never worried much about the options that IE had or how its UI looked-- they just made Mozilla/Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox the best browser they knew how to make. It didn't have to defeat MS in market share (as they are saying now, apparently)... the goal was simply to provide an alternative that was good enough to keep Microsoft from owning everything.

          It took some time, but if you look at the charts of browser market share from 2000 to present, you will see that FF began to make some serious inroads into IE's dominance. IE market share was declining and Firefox was on the way up when Chrome arrived. It stole much of Firefox's thunder; so began the decline.

          If only we could get back THAT Mozilla. They didn't conclude that since IE had 95% market share, it meant that people really, really liked IE, and that the way to gain market share was to copy IE in every way and eliminate any superior features that would serve to distinguish it from its corporate competitor. In doing so, the devs would have thought they were making it as easy as possible for people who were completely satisfied with IE and whose needs were being perfectly met by IE to switch to Firefox.

          The tabbed browsing would have had to go, of course. IE didn't have it, and since everyone uses IE, that must mean that's the correct way for it to be. If the FF market share doesn't rise, the problem must be that it's still not a good enough copy of IE.

          Firefox never would have began to erode IE's dominance and forced THEM to introduce tabs if they'd had that insane mindset back then. Obsessing about market share and the psychology of the users who are already used to IE and who expect things to be a certain way would have put the cart before the horse. Sure, you can build a copy of IE, and if people who really and truly liked IE DID decide to switch, it would be relatively painless. One question: If they really and truly like IE, what is going to convince them to switch to your IE copy when they are already using the genuine article? One more question: If your goal is to prevent the corporate dominance of the web, have you really accomplished that if your product follows the corporate design of IE as much as the actual IE?

          Mozilla lost the plot years ago, and they're doubling down on stupid every chance they get.

    2. Chewi

      Re: Finally!

      Me too. However, competition is very important so I want Firefox to live. I'm interested to see what they can do with their next generation Servo stuff but the UI is generally the dealbreaker.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Finally!

        Mozilla have done a huge amount lately to alienate a lot of their long time users, and this is another of the reasons for their steadily declining market share. Numerous decisions such as to push the awful Australis makeover, constantly strip out more and more customisability, bundling Pocket, and the impending ditching of their powerful addon ecosystem are all decisions which have helped to drive people away from the browser - whilst failing to draw new users to it.

        I agree that Firefox can flourish without being the most popular browser, but Mozilla needs to start focusing on what their users want and how to carve out a niche in the browser market, rather than pushing one dumb decision after another onto their user base whilst turning Firefox more and more into a simple clone of Chrome. Once Firefox 57 lands, it'll just be a browser that looks like Chrome and uses lightweight addons like Chrome .

        For the record, I ditched Firefox around 3 years ago after the Australis turd landed and have been a happy Pale Moon user since.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Finally!

          I've been loyal to Firefox for a long time - but they are testing me to breaking point.

          First they made it impossible to use Selenium - so I moved that application to Chrome where it works well on built-in support.

          Then recently W7 Firefox 54.0.1 32bit regularly keeps locking up or crashing. That has never been a problem in the past. The crash reports get sent off automatically - but I've no idea if there is a common problem.

          I will have to start looking at alternatives to Firefox (not Chrome or IE) for my general browsing. The Palemoon reference above sounds interesting.

          1. HashimSheffield

            Re: Finally!

            I've been having the same problem with Firefox for the last few months. Running more than 15 tabs at once or just a few intensive ones will suddenly cause the CPU to rise to crazy levels, over 25% usually, and the whole thing locks up till it has to be killed in Task Manager. Starting to get really annoying and making me consider other browsers, which sucks cause I've been fine with FF for a long time. It's been my browser of choice since I first moved on from IE years ago.

        2. fobobob

          Re: Finally!

          I feel like they really screwed up by neglecting the word-of-mouth potential of the long-time power users... If nobody recommends it to their family friends, or actively campaigns against it, you can conceivably wind up where we're at.

          PM is my standard browser, but it's hard to recommend to average users, for numerous reasons. If it doesn't work as they expect out of the box, every time, they won't accept it. Oddly they're fine accepting the big-name turds which aren't tangibly better; their 'logic' there is probably an appeal to majority.

          1. Wayland Bronze badge

            Re: Finally!

            Niche culture is the very definition of cool. Yes if ordinary folk want to be cool then some of them will begin adopting the Niche culture. Once it's mass market it's no longer cool, inspite or even because so many people approve.

            Any attempt to appeal to a bigger market immediately loses the cool factor.

            Ordinary people are only pretending to be cool, they really just want to be like everyone else yet treated as if they are a little better than average.

            Cool people are not even aware that they are cool, they do things for their own reasons and not anybody elses.

            You can see the people trying to be cool, they pay more money for ripped jeans. Cool people have holes in their jeans that they don't care about because they are old and comfy.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: Finally!

          "push the awful Australis makeover"

          So, the 2D FLUGLY with HAMBURGER MENU has a name? And it's 'Australis'?

          Thanks for that. I'm glad OTHER people agree with me on how PATHETIC this UI style is. It's "all over" Chrome, too, and the FF "Classic UI" plugins to "go back" to the NORMAL UI are a REASON to use Firefox!

          yeah, HERE IT IS in all of its HORROR...

    3. John Arthur

      Re: Finally!

      Me too! After using Pale Moon for quite a while when Opera went bad I am now a very happy Vivaldi user!

    4. GrapeBunch

      Re: Finally!


      Yes, me too. Also based on the Chromium engine is Opera, which I also use every day. Also Sleipnir, which admittedly I haven't given much of a workout. Why would one use Chrome when the chromavixxen are so much better? Because it's there?, like using IE?

      The third browser I have open at all times (on the laptop that can take the activity) is Firefox (54). I remember a few years ago that the author of the best-working extensions I had ever encountered, got into an argument with Firefox about their requirements for keeping the extension up to date with new FF versions. I don't understand or know the details of the argument, but the author just up and left, pulling the plug on his extensions, so it must have been an important dispute. That put the kibosh on any thoughts I may have harboured of using Firefox exclusively.

      1. Nicole D.
        IT Angle

        Firefix (54)

        I'd rather not be bothered switching between browsers, and have been using FF all but exclusively for years. I'd be happy to continue for years more. But they've also been pushing me away in recent years, with an increasingly stripped down UI, forced features, and missing or obscured features. I dread and postpone each update and take backups of my portable installation before I finally do it. What will be broken this time? What option will I need to research so I can turn it off? What unwanted new feature will I need to disable, or learn to live with if it can't be disabled, or find an addon to disable it. This is Firefox. Why is it my browser of choice again?

    5. emullinsabq

      Re: Finally!

      (regarding Vivaldi)

      Hm. I checked it out just now. Went to their website, clicked Terms first, and the first thing that I didn't filter was something to the effect: we can change these conditions any time.

      At which point, I stopped reading and closed the tab.

  3. Alan Hope

    Hard to change over once you have used Chrome. Firefox can't properly import your Chrome bookmarks (it puts them all in a single folder). Then, as a developer, the reload button is an annoying distance away from the navigation buttons causing instant and constant extra mousing around. My chosen theme has yet again become "not-compatible" after an auto-update. My eye is constantly distracted by the curvy tabs and the odd-sized and very dated-looking round buttons - though maybe in time I would get used to them.

    Give your users a clunky experience and they will pick an alternative. I've nothing against Firefox and I keep it there for testing but I'm afraid basic usability trumps memory-efficiency on a high-end computer.

    Do hate the data-slurping though. Is there any way to configure Firefox to look and work like Chrome? :)

    1. Len Goddard

      My reasons for not using chrome are sort of the mirror of yours. I hate the appearance of the thing and I loathe the integrated search and URL bar. TBH, I don't actually use firefox any more either as I dislike the new appearance and mobile-phone style interface. I now use Palemoon which is an optimised firefox using the older front end.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge


      "My eye is constantly distracted by the curvy tabs and the odd-sized and very dated-looking round buttons"

      Really, is it that important compared to all of the other factors?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: FFS?

        Of course it's important - to him. Other things are important to you. Other things are important to me.

        One thing we can all agree on, I think, is that diversity is good. Choice is good. Having one browser on top is inevitable, but other browsers must exist to keep things fair.

        For me, I do not mind at all that Firefox is not on top. Being on top makes you the prime target for all the nasties. Being obscure makes you uninteresting to the nasties. I will stay with Firefox as long as NoScript keeps on working. Firefox and NoScript are my preferred way of browsing and I will only change the day I have to.

    3. Patito

      Have you been living under a rock..... the latest firefox is using the same memory print as chrome which i actually do not like but that is another discussion.

      It does make it faster, firefox is now way better then Chrome but that is personal i just hate chrome

      1. WatAWorld

        FF isn't needed for competition. There's Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, Pale Moon, Safari, MSIE, Edge?

        "Have you been living under a rock..... the latest firefox is using the same memory print as chrome which i actually do not like but that is another discussion."

        One or two good releases of FF is not going to persuade people who left FF to switch back.

        Generally only a few hobbyists are going switch browsers every time one beats another in some test. Switching, but to hobbyists the hassle is the attraction of their hobby.

        For FF to regain customers who left:

        1. FF is going to have to be noticeably better than what they switched to (be it Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, etc., etc. apparently no lack of choices).

        2. FF is going to have to build a track record of being consistently better.

        That is a lot of choice besides Chrome, so FF isn't needed for competition. There's Opera, Vivaldi, Pale Moon, Safari, MSIE, Edge, and more.


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