This past Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of Firefox 1.0 being announced, and the browser has come a long way in the past 12 years. This Tech Time Warp looks at how Firefox has grown over time.
The open source project was originally created as an alternative for Internet Explorer, allowing users to prevent spyware, block pop-ups, and use tabbed browsing. Within the first year, there was over 100 million downloads, and volunteers have translated it into 90 different languages. The browser has gone through numerous name changes due to trademark issues over the years, starting off as Phoenix, then becoming Firebird, and finally settling on Mozilla Firefox. But, it’s stayed true to its open source roots and continues to enjoy a loyal following.
Your choice of browser might say more about you than you think. A recent study of 300,000 customer service agents found that individuals who use Firefox or Chrome are 19 percent less likely to miss work than an Internet Explorer or Safari user—and their customers are more satisfied. This directly correlates to personal initiative. If someone went out of their way to download a browser instead of using a default, chances are they’re more committed to their job. With so many browsers to choose from, user preferences can change quickly, though. Recently, it was reported that Internet Explorer lost 21 percent of the market share from the beginning of 2016 to October. In comparison, Chrome went from 35 percent up to 55 percent. Since January, an estimated 331 million users left Internet Explorer and Edge for Chrome. Firefox has held its own, though. Firefox started out the year with 12 percent of the market share and ended October with 11 percent—not bad considering Internet Explorer’s 21 percent drop.
Future of Firefox looks bright
One reason Firefox still holds its own is that it continues to innovate, by removing bugs and adding new features. For example, in the Firefox 49.0 update for Android users there is now an offline viewing feature that allows users to look back on previously viewed pages without needing to be connected.
Recently Mozilla announced that they will be refreshing Firefox in 2017 and offering new technical components including faster page load times and an upgraded user interface, which puts Firefox in a more favorable position to compete with Chrome. The question is: Will these new improvements be enough to take away market share from browser giants? We look forward to finding out when the new rejuvenated platform arrives in 2017.