For Firefox, a Challenging Future Awaits

23 thoughts on “For Firefox, a Challenging Future Awaits”

  1. It is really surprising to see that no one actually cares to look in to the depth of the article. They just repost.

    FF has gained the market share but IE has not lost by 11%.

    please have a look at overall figures instead of comparing just one version of IE.

    The article in TechCrunch clearly misses that point.. but I didnt expect this from GigaOm.

    1. I am not sure what you are talking about, the number is essentially from May 2009 and it totals up the all IE versions and it is a year-over-year “%” decline, though actual number of users might be up for all browsers.

  2. Mozilla needs to focus on performance and fix the memory leaks. 3.5 is not much of an improvement in both regards. Realistically, they should take a 6 month interval and stop adding new features and work ONLY on increasing speeds and improvement memory management. There’s no reason for a browser to take up 500mb of memory and slow the computer down, well after you’ve closed all but one tab.

      1. No, Peter’s right: Firefox is an infamous memory leaker. I do browser software development of all sorts and IE — for all its faults — at least cleans up after itself better. Firefox suffers from many forms of entropy the longer you leave it running, and often exhibits odd behavior requiring a restart (though it rarely crashes outright).

        And this isn’t surprising when you look at the Gecko source code. A lot of it is pretty amateurish, and for all of Firefox’s supposed superiority in security, by now it’s as full of holes as IE (which has lately cleaned up its act).

      2. Asa, I don’t even install extensions and I still have 500+ mb after a few hours. Compared to Chrome (which I like the speed but not the interface), I estimate that Chrome manages memory at about an order of magnitude better. Chrome goes to under 100mb after closing all but one blank tab, but not Firefox.

  3. The state of the browser market pretty much proves that it’s impossible for an open source project to remain a popular front-end application for too long.

    A successful open source project will see one of two trends:

    – commercial entities, each with its own USP will pick, modify and integrate portions of the project into their own products. This is what’s happening with Firefox. (Chrome, according to Google, used ” components from Apple’s WebKit and Mozilla’s Firefox”)

    – will see widespread adoption on back-end IT infrastructure. Apache, Linux, *BSD are examples of this. I guess this is because after a point, the marginal cost of polishing the UI is more than what developers are willing to bear.

    In this context, I’m particularly interested in following how Android ends up.

    1. Android should be able to pull it off as long as it has industrial support from Google, that is ready to commit funds to develop it.

      It is astonishing how the “Not Invented Here” syndrome is allowed to exist.
      Opera is the dominant browser on the mobile platform, as long as it delivers to Nokia and all Symbian platforms. The others are a mere curiosity. And read the article again what is stated about “mobile browsers”.

      Opera, has like Android a leg to stand on. It allows its community to contribute with “Widgets” – that can fully use Java and enhance functionality, but it provides the main functionality, including an email browser. So simple things like downloading a file does not require a subsequent search of all disk.
      Opera also seems to be the browser that paves the way with new functionality, from tabbed windows, downloading, notes (including “Copy to Note” and “Insert from Note”) – and because of the mobile: the ability to zoom on on what is interesting on the page.

      Now, the article address the application that is to be integrated with: “Widgets”. That is available in Opera, with a kit for developing new widgets to interface to other applications.

      IE will be loosing share because of the inherent security violations. I am surprised by the number of Internet banking sites that permits IE access. FF is a skeleton, with add-ons that nobody controls style and quality. When will you reflect on the reason for why so little useful software is created in the US? Because, Apple has seen it for years?

  4. Interesting article, but I question this: ‘As we pointed out earlier, “Today’s browser competition is less about who renders HTML properly, and more about what the incumbent browser is and how well it accommodates whatever new applications the Internet throws its way.”’

    If that were true, then IE would not be losing share and Firefox would not be gaining share, no? That was true during the first browser wars when it was Netscape battling IE, but now? Less of a big deal, still obviously a big advantage.

    On the mobile front, WebKit is definitely proving a huge benefit – and the first (reasonable) mover advantage is clearly Apple’s, but there simply isn’t a viable competitor yet. We’ll see what happens if Fennec ever makes it to the iPhone.

    1. The biggest problem IE had prior to IE8 was _horrible_ Javascript performance. There were worst-cases where pages could take several seconds to run scripts that other browsers executed in less than a second. This has been vastly improved in IE8, but Apple and Google are making big strides and still appear to be faster.

      As absurd as it is in many ways, web applications are relying on Javascript on the client, so this needs to run fast. Microsoft’s foot dragging on this is just another example of a monopoly’s complacency. (And my company paid a very big price for it — it actually crossed my mind to sue MS.)

  5. Interesting piece Om. What about the revenue generated over the past 5 years by Mozilla and how will this help? Or, will it help them tackle these issues? You’re way closer to this – but given the work I’ve done with them in the past this piece of the puzzle always fascinates me. Did you speak with them about this? Maybe it’s overly reported, I’m not sure, just an interesting angle I think. There is always a lot to discuss in terms of how these respective browsers are engineered, but the fact that Mozilla piped into the search monetization cash flow early has got to still be a big advantage? Maybe not w/ Chrome…

  6. I don’t understand what people are talking about when they say Firefox, (I am running 3.5.1 on Ubuntu,) consumes 500+ MBytes. This has never happened to me since I began running 3.5. It is fast and memory efficient – I don’t understand what others are talking about. It is slow to startup, but I am running about 40 addons.

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