Firefox Gaining Ground, But By How Much?

from the misleading-numbers dept

One point that kept coming up in the browser wars was that just because IE is installed on every PC doesn’t mean that everyone uses it. Of course, after Microsoft squashed Netscape, the issue faded into irrelevancy. But now as Firefox gains in popularity, browser market share numbers are being questioned once again. Should data peddlers who put Firefox at under 10 percent share be taken seriously when many people have IE but don’t use it, and when technically savvy people — those who surf the most — are more likely to use Firefox? In that sense, Firefox has more “browsed” share than “browser” share. To be sure, it’s difficult to measure exactly which browser people use when they might have two, three, or more loaded on their machines. People might even use them for different purposes and sites. Still, the large numbers and types of people downloading Firefox indicate that much more surfing might actually be done with Firefox than the stats show. While there are a number of measures that can get at more accurate numbers (site stats, user surveys, etc.), the methodology for determining what is actually being used hasn’t progressed much in the past 10 years.

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Comments on “Firefox Gaining Ground, But By How Much?”

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TJ says:

Damned lies and statistics

“IE is always going to have around 50 percent market share, even if no-one ever uses it.” says the article because IE comes bundled with Windows.

What? When something is given away free with something else and possibly never used, how is that ‘market share’? Does every AOL installation CD included with a magazine or box of cereal count towards AOL’s share of the ISP market? I think not.

It seems obvious that site log statistics for a week or more averaged between several broad interest web sites (not IT-specific sites) would be the best available numbers.

anon says:

Ask google...

I recall google putting out a graph at one point of browsers, perhaps associated with zeitgeist, but I can’t find it. On googling, I find a reference to them having been taken down – but they should be the people who have the real data. Why did they take them down? I’d take Mark Felt’s famous advice on this subject…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: reality anyone?

Hmm. Funny. I use Firefox and it crashes a hell of a lot less than IE ever did for me. It also is much faster than IE. But, I guess we all have different experiences.

As for market share, it’s the majority of the visits to Techdirt these days, and a few other sites have reported the same… so… I’m curiouse why you say it’s “marginal.”

this field annoys me says:

Re: Re: reality anyone?

Firstly, there is no way in hell Firefox is faster than IE. I imagine you, being a technical person supporting a technical site, would be using a fairly high end machine that would disguise the Firefox overhead. Try using it on some older PC’s, you know the ones that real non-technical consumers use. You can just about make yourself a cup of coffee in the time it takes to start.

Secondly, as a technical person you probably don’t even notice the many glaring deficencies of Firefox. Like themes not even being applied without restarting, extensions not behaving properly or becoming non functional when you ‘upgrade’ (which in the Mozilla universe means completely reinstall), downloads often become corrupted, there are too many real usability problems to even bother with. Technical people, like those in the Mozilla fan club, can easily cope with these problems and thus are blinkered to their real impact.

I’m not a fan of IE (I use Opera), but for most people it works just fine. They don’t miss stuff like tabbed browsing because they never had it, there is not sufficent motivation to change and IE7 will probably reduce motivation even further. What annoys me about the reality-disconnect surrounding Mozilla is that it is totally counter productive, because it is over promising and under delivering.

Lastly, it’s somewhat disengenious to use a site technical people visit as the basis of a market comparison. It’s like LinuxWorld claiming a 90% Linux market share because people that visit their site use Linux. But you knew that already…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: reality anyone?

Hmm. To be honest, I think the non-technical people would be even LESS LIKELY to notice the “deficencies” you name — as they’re unlikely to mess around with things like extensions or themes.

I’ve convinced various extremely non-technical relatives to switch to Firefox, and none of them have had any problems. So… I’m still curious about these massive problems.

When I used IE it had problems all the time. I couldn’t have more than 4 windows open or it would crash. Firefox almost never crashes on me.

Anyway. I just haven’t seen or heard any evidence to support your claims at all. My experiences have been entirely the opposite — as have all the non-technical people I know using Firefox.

sick says:

Re: Re: Re: reality anyone?

I know I’m beating a dead horse but I’d like to answer your points, T.F.A.M.
“Firefox is slow.” Firefox loads much slower than IE after first boot, it’s true. The reason for this is that many parts of IE are loaded with Windows, so that only the application itself (>1MB) needs to open. Firefox.exe is ~6MB, so yes it will certainly load slower than IE the first time. Once those components of Firefox that are equivalent to [*the parts of IE that are allegedly necessary to run Windows and thus are accessed when Windows loads rather than waiting until the specific application is run*] have been run once, that doesn’t need to happen again.
At work I use a P4 1.8 GHz w/512 MB of RAM. Not the slowest PC currently in use by far, but neither is this a dream machine, agreed? Try the following test on your computer: Turn it on, open both firefox and ie. Close them both. Open them both again. Which is faster the second time? On my computer, it’s ff. Your experience may vary, but so what? Nobody ever put a gun to your head and said “Use Firefox.”
I agree with your points 2 and 4, but then I also agree with Mike’s counterpoint “if you’re talking about non-techies then extensions and themes are irrelevant.” Additionally, while I am admittedly a technical person, in using firefox I have not encountered any problems at all. I’ve had to uninstall some extensions that didn’t work right, but no problem with the application itself ever appeared, easy to fix or not.
On point 3: You seem to be saying that –because Firefox is not something many people will use since they are not suffieciently motivated– that Mozilla shouldn’t bother, shouldn’t promote their product (which is free and doesn’t hurt anybody that I can see)–because it’s not perfect? Who puts out a perfect product? Who puts out an imperfect product and admits it?

PS: for you hardcore Fx users:

Spunky says:

No Subject Given

At the end of the day use the browser you prefer and stop being fanboys touting your favourite. I used to use IE and when I did it worked perfectly fine for me. Now I use Firefox and have become so used to the added features it would be hard for me to go back to IE.

As for all the security issues, or bugs associated with each browser I can’t say I’ve really suffered from any of them on either browser – but as one of the above trolls pointed out, I am one of these somewhat tech savvy people, no doubt capable of securing my pcs accordingly.

Just for a bit of fun, if you’re running IE go to this website and tell me what happens:

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