firefox chrome ie.pngThere has been more talk about web browsers in the last few weeks than any time I can remember in the past. Google Chrome came out of the Beta phase, Opera unveiled the first Alpha release of version 10, Internet Explorer 8 is suspected to have a 3rd Beta coming in the next month, and Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 was just unveiled. This is becoming a hugely competitive market, and it’s made me wonder whether Mozilla will be able to hold their ground.

Taking a look at Firefox 3.1 I’ve noticed that some great features have been added to the browser, but will it be enough to retain and attract new users? A lot of my friends have already jumped ship to Google Chrome because it has just the right features without overdoing it. Once Chrome supports extensions like Firefox does, which is supposed to be soon, I’m sure Mozilla will be in for a rude awakening as they lose more of their users.

Is Mozilla at risk more than others? I believe so. Firefox users show that they’ve been willing to switch browsers once in order to find something that better fits their needs. For that reason I feel that initially Google Chrome’s marketshare will be eating away at Firefox’s, but it could be another story if Google follows through on their plan to have their browser ship on some new computers like they already do for some of their other software. Doing that would surely lay down the gauntlet for the competition… especially for those browsers who have been relying heavily on word-of-mouth.

Is Firefox 3.1 going to be enough to keep you a faithful Mozilla user? Remember the Ctrl+Tab switcher that Mozilla had in earlier releases? After receiving some negative feedback Mozilla decided to yank that feature out of the browser, and I think that might be the right call. I thought it was kinda nice to have, but I heard more complaints than praises about it. That’s a good sign that they are definitely listening to their users, but what about the other features they are including:

  • Private browsing mode
  • Enhanced session recovery – after the browser crashes you can select which tabs you want to restore
  • Some support for operating system sounds
  • Selective results in the address bar using symbols [read more]
  • Tab detaching
  • Improved performance
  • Better support for the Acid 3 test

I feel that Mozilla is trying to keep up with some of the other browsers as well now. For example, the private browsing mode was originally said to be pushed back again, but once Google Chrome came out Mozilla seemed to think it was a higher priority. They also added a tab detaching feature similar to that of Chrome, and it’s one thing I truly wish I could disable. I find myself detaching tabs by accident all of the time, and it’s a pain since they will then open in a new window when that happens.

Personally I’ve been a huge fan of Firefox since before version 1.0, but I’m happy to see all of the competition they are getting. Firefox has been pushing Internet Explorer to rethink their browser for years now, and Microsoft now pays more attention to how they can make their browser better for their users. I think Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera are doing the same thing as Firefox by making it more important than ever to come out with useful and innovative features.

So where do you think the browser market is headed? Are we looking at one browser that will take the crown, or will we never see one dominate like Internet Explorer once did?

There Are 24 Comments

  1. I just hope Firefox doesn’t become bloated over time…they need to be careful. Haven’t tried Chrome yet but I want to…heard good things. I’m just lacking the sit down time to give it a go.

  2. This latest story from the BBC might have a small influence and wake up a few more people. Would be great to get IE out of the fray and let FF Chrome Opera drive each other to even better things.

    [news.bbc.co.uk]

  3. Michael Dobrofsky wrote:
    I just hope Firefox doesn’t become bloated over time…they need to be careful.

    Definitely. I think they are struggling at this point to find new features they can add to the browser without being considered a bloated browser. They do need to remember that extensions are there to add a lot of the functionality.

    Anonymous wrote:
    Would be great to get IE out of the fray and let FF Chrome Opera drive each other to even better things.

    I’d like to see that as well. Those three browsers are great rivals, and they will definitely push each other to great things.

  4. “So where do you think the browser market is headed? Are we looking at one browser that will take the crown, or will we never see one dominate like Internet Explorer once did?”

    I think at least three browsers will prevail: Internet Explorer because it’s embedded inside Windows, Firefox because of its extensive Add-ons, Chrome because of it stripped down structure and Safari because it will receive the Halo Effect of Apple as a corporation.

    Beyond that, my crystal ball gets blurry.

  5. everybody has preferences on browsing the net, in my case, internet explorer is a virus, safari is apple, chrome is a joke and firefox..now we’re talking. speed, security, structure of websites, flash, add-ons etc..nothing else. i even prefer konqueror after firefox as browser.

    firefox bloated? of course if you install all those crappy toolbars. but that’s a user issue and not a feature issue of firefox.

  6. Firefox has totally changed my life, i hardly remember how it was before :? when i was using IE…

    i use FF portable and have different setting and extensions depending which area i use it for, ie one for banking, one for betting, one for websharing etc..i doubt any browser can ever compete with firefox when it comes to usability (just think greasemonkey)…if NOT someday in the future every webpage only has flash..then it does not matter any more and the web is dead.

    the only issue with FF for me is the speed, even though i limit the extensions for each install, it’s quite slow…and because of that i use K-Meleon for reading and plain surfing, i relly really like it, it so fast :) Maybe chrome also has speed i dont really know, i tried it but i did not like it..i will do another try in the nearest month(s).

    but for the ordinary user, they will stick to IE to the end, i tried to show my father..even though i think he likes my setup for him, (i did one for stocks and stuff), it’s like he does not really bather..

    a while ago i did set up a firefox install for betting information to a person..i used that myself and i think it was great..so i asked him after a while what he thinked about it. The answer was..”i don’t get it, why should i use a different browser, i have IE it does the job”

    you can’t draw any conclusions based on that..but i my guess is that there are a lot of people who do undestand the power of a browser, but the mass (of people) have no clue.

    last week i was talking to a person (in my age) about Remember the milk and how great it is..the answer came quickly ‘i use outlook’
    “end of discussion”

    maybe i’m a little bit of topic..but my point is, today i’m so so happy with my firefox and it does not have to change one bit except the speed..if mozilla fixes that i’m toatlly pleased..and for AV Joe it does not matter how many fancy tricks you can do with the browser.

  7. PS: when i mean speed in firefox i talk start/launch time. :)

  8. :cry:

    It was so unhappy for me..when i use ff3 to browse friend website like hi5,friendster or myspace..its too slow and sometimes crash. it force me to use alternative browser like opera especially, ie or k-meleon. i think opera and chrome manage RAM better than other browser.hope mozilla will fix this issue..ryan, please reply

  9. What’s with rabbit with its throat cut peta sponsor ad? Blood and guts on your website? Good luck with that. I’ve seen enough blood already, I don’t need it shoved in my face while reading about browsers. Goodbye.

  10. Ryan wrote:
    Michael Dobrofsky wrote:
    I just hope Firefox doesn’t become bloated over time…they need to be careful.

    Definitely. I think they are struggling at this point to find new features they can add to the browser without being considered a bloated browser. They do need to remember that extensions are there to add a lot of the functionality.

    Which was kinda what I liked about Firefox. It was clean and simple, but if you wanted more features you could easily add them. I agree with the CTRL-Tab was not that great, I never really used it either as it didn’t seem all the great to me. I really wish they would dump the tab tearing feature as it is so annoying and IMHO useless feature.

  11. I think Firefox should focus on its core and let the extensions do the rest (perhaps have a separate release with certain “must-have” extensions included and officially supported). If they focus on the core they can make it more stable, more secure, faster, more standards-compliant and implement features like Chrome: separate threads per tab.

    I hope they don’t make the mistake of implementing too many features not related to the core, as that would be cannibalistic. Release those features as extensions and I think they have a great chance to perpetuate their success.

  12. None of the other browsers even compare with Firefox overall. I don’t know why anyone thinks that Firefox would disappear or have a hard time competing. Extensions, speed, constant improvements and innovations, security… It would be nice to see other browsers really compete with Firefox in what it can do and how it does it, but I don’t see it yet.

  13. As a long-time Firefox user I was amazed by Chrome’s speed, stability and compactness right from the get-go, and I still am pleasantly surprised by how far it’s come in such a short time.
    Once add-ons are fully implemented it would be hard to justify Firefox.

  14. Firefox is well ahead on most features and any competitor has a long way to catch up.I also like its independence from the giant Microsoft and Google near monopolies.

  15. I don’t think Mozilla has anything to worry about. In fact, more browser competition is exactly what Mozilla wants. Mozilla understands the way the web works and it listens to its users. In my opinion, there is still no browser that can compare to Firefox.
    But don’t take my word for it, all the browser usage stats only point to Firefox continuing to grow, unphased by Chrome and the like. In fact, Chrome seems to really just be stealing share from IE.

    Take early adopters as an indicator of things to come – they’re usually pretty accurate: [w3schools.com]

  16. Chrome’s speed and intuitive interface make it the browser to beat in my opinion. Unfortunately, many figure that if there browser functions they shouldn’t bother changing. However, thanks to curious users (and we’ll c if that pre-install deal comes thru) I expect Chrome’s market share to grow, likely taking the number 3 spot after Firefox, but it’ll take time. I also expect to see Fx’s share shrink slightly as Chrome’s share slowly grows, but a shake up for #2 would be really far off.

  17. This is saying a lot about Mozilla; [computerworld.com]

  18. Oh and there’s this “Impossible statement”

    [tech.yahoo.com]

    Chrome to the rescue???????? We’ll see….

  19. lars wrote:
    the only issue with FF for me is the speed, even though i limit the extensions for each install

    The time it takes to start Firefox is sometimes appalling to me. Even on a really fast computer it can still take over 10 seconds before I see Firefox, whereas almost all other browser appear in under 2 seconds. I wish there was something they could do about that.

    Change wrote:
    I hope they don’t make the mistake of implementing too many features not related to the core, as that would be cannibalistic. Release those features as extensions and I think they have a great chance to perpetuate their success.

    They should start focusing solely on performance enhancements, and move new features to extensions that they release themselves. I don’t think Mozilla creates enough of their own extensions.

    netster007x wrote:
    I expect Chrome’s market share to grow, likely taking the number 3 spot after Firefox, but it’ll take time. I also expect to see Fx’s share shrink slightly as Chrome’s share slowly grows, but a shake up for #2 would be really far off.

    I agree that Chrome should be able to take on the number 3 spot if they play their cards right, and it would take a lot of work to catch up to where Firefox is at. After all, it’s taken Firefox over 4 years to get to this point, and they’ve had tremendous word-of-mouth support.

  20. Well if European’s can be considered “an indicator” this is somewhat interesting on the surface anyway…. Loss then partially regained.

    [computerworld.com]

    What is curious is which browser loss share to which…Ha ha ha. Watch “your back” Firefox.

  21. “Once Chrome supports extensions like Firefox does, which is supposed to be soon, I’m sure Mozilla will be in for a rude awakening as they lose more of their users.”

    But once those users migrate to Chrome and start loading it up with add-ons that aren’t widely supported or developed, they’ll soon learn that it is add-ons that weighs down their browser and system.
    Pretty much anything that you add mass to gets heavier thus slowing down it’s momentum.

    Firefox out of the box in its default state is still hard to beat. I expect certain issues with speed and performance because I choose to install and use 60+ extensions at a time in just one of my profiles but I rarely come across a serious issue. If a new problem comes up, I know that it’s because I just installed a new add-on. And I test add-ons before installing them too. People have to use common sense and spend some time learning how extensions interact with each other when they decide to install 6 toolbars. Firefox is still faster than IE anything, and Google has many years to get to where Firefox is now.

    Plus, it’ll will take quite a bit of time before Google can ever come up with an add-ons developer base such as Mozilla has that develops, supports, updates, and markets their add-ons free of charge and most with great loyalty to Mozilla and the end users that use their add-ons.
    The only way to compete with that is to hire add-on developers and while Google isn’t short on cash, they’re not going to put money into something just to make it popular or to gain market share, they’ll need to get a return on their investments and so I can only imagine that would mean more ads or fee based services.

    I gave Chrome a very fair shot as I did Opera, Avast, and others when I went shopping for a new browser years ago and Firefox in its first release was a great, fully functional browser that I feel in love with.

    Mozilla has been a part of my life every day for just about 4 years now, but it has been 10 or more years for others. I don’t know exactly what it is but I’m as passionate now if not more as when I first discovered Firefox and Mozilla in general and others are too.

    Google can’t buy that and nobody can replicate it.
    It’s just an awesome collection of communities of great people from around the World that share in common goals and work very well together.

    Don’t get me wrong, my second favorite Internet company is Google. I use a lot of their services and love them all and Chrome will be successful, but it won’t be the death of Firefox.

  22. Really Firefox is faster, than Internet Explorer out of the box.

    Well I’m going to have to give you that one, mister. Ah, if your willing too experiment a little go over here and download this Add-On for Internet Explorer known as “IE7 Pro” (It functions with Ver.7&8 of Internet Explorer)

    Why IE is “so slow” is because of the default number of “server connections” it ships with at default settings. Load the Add-ON and you’ll see a little Blue “e” in the right hand corner of the bottom of the browser Click on that and open the “Preferences menu” when that opens Click on “IE Settings” on the left side of the open window on the right when that menu opens you’ll see a little box off to the right center of the page with a “number” in it.

    Click that “number up” till it goes to “14″ and tell me how fast Firefox 3 is then over Internet Explorer after you restart the Browser and start to surf……Should earn your Respect afterwards.

    Here’s that link chief; [ie7pro.com]

    Why Microsoft doesn’t just snap this Add-on up is beyond understanding….It makes IE very user friendly.

  23. Typical clueless IE fanboi drone. IE is slow because its Trident engine is OBSOLETE, non standards compliant(even IE8 still has tremendous amount of bugs in its standards support) and the JS engine even in IE8 is SLOOOOOOOOOW compared to Firefox 3, let alone Firefox 3.1 Beta or Minefield 3.2a1pre(which will be Firefox 3.2) that I’m using atm.

    [gtalbot.org]

    IE7pro isn’t gonna fix the fundamental problems with IE’s Trident engine, period. Just jacking up the connection to 14 isn’t gonna speed up the browser much, IE’s page rendering is SLOOOOOOOOOW.

    [zimbrablog.com]

    And I’m testing with IE8 Partner Build Pre-RC1 8.0.6001.18344, which is suppose to fix most of the Beta 2 bugs and be faster than IE7, from what I can see LOL, try again, Microsoft. Massive regressions noted even in build 18344 on the IE Blog, it’s embarassing to say the least that this is even tagged RC1, it’s more like Beta 1 quality of code, IE8 Beta 2 is more like Alpha 1 quality of code.

    Just try it yourself, download the latest Minefield 3.2a1pre nightly build or Chromium nightly builds, compare to whatever IE8 build you have and you’ll notice the difference without even trying. Microsoft is outgunned and outengineered by the open source community when it comes to standards compliant web browsers.

    Even MORE laughable, Microsoft releases Internet Explorer Mobile 6 with IE6′s engine in 2008/2009. I don’t even need to say how bad that one is when it comes to standards compliance or speed.

    [brucelawson.co.uk]

  24. Ken Saunders wrote:
    Firefox out of the box in its default state is still hard to beat. I expect certain issues with speed and performance because I choose to install and use 60+ extensions at a time in just one of my profiles but I rarely come across a serious issue.

    That is nuts! I have 5 extensions installed and don’t want to install any more because of performance reasons. I used to have 10-15 extensions installed at one time, but it always seemed to slow down the browser. Now I watch more carefully at what I actually install.

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