Why you should root for Mozilla's Firefox 57 in the browser wars


Mozilla is planning on getting back into the browser race with Firefox 57, which aims to close the Google Chrome speed gap, utilize a bit of artificial intelligence and potentially tweak its funding model with memberships.

Take a minute to chuckle. Over it? Now realize that you need Mozilla to succeed somewhat in the browser market and be more than just a niche player.

CNET’s Stephen Shankland outlined Mozilla’s master plan to make a comeback. The odds are daunting yet it’s hard not to root for the underdog. After all, Microsoft has Internet Explorer, but wants you on Edge. Microsoft hasn’t gotten too far. Google’s Chrome, a browser that feels as bloated as the old Firefox at time, dominates desktop and mobile browsing. Apple’s Safari has some traction, but doesn’t go beyond the iOS ecosystem.

Add it up and what you get is domination by Google. Google can dictate what ads you see (even as it serves up its own) and drives the experience for you on multiple platforms. Now as long as Google’s Chrome browser is great perhaps the trade-offs work.

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StatCounter puts Chrome at more than 54 percent with Safari at 14 percent with Firefox and IE and Edge at 6 percent. StatCounter’s stats go across all platforms. On ZDNet, Chrome dominates followed by Safari, Microsoft browsers and Safari in what equates to a tie.

But these grand technology bargains don’t last forever.

We need Mozilla to do well the same way we need AMD to do well in the data center (to be a secondary supplier and keep the top dog honest). Every corner of the tech industry needs a strong secondary player. Microsoft vs. Google is just a power play between two giants in browsers. Toss in Apple for a third giant.

Shankland’s profile is worth a read, but to boil it down consider the following:

  • Mozilla may have trouble getting people to care about Firefox 57. Mozilla is a crusader, but it’s unlikely that the masses will care.
  • Speed will be a big deal, but it’s unclear that Mozilla can offer such a leap that market share will follow. Mozilla said it can do well with 15 percent to 20 percent browser share.
  • Mozilla isn’t an ecosystem and that may limit its success.

Simply put, the odds for Mozilla don’t look good. But here’s to hoping that Mozilla makes enough progress to offer a counterweight to the incumbents.



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