What it is: Mozilla has revamped their Firefox browser in an attempt to compete against Google’s Chrome browser.
At one time, Netscape Navigator was the dominant browser. Then Microsoft started giving away Internet Explorer for free and since Windows was the largest platform, Internet Explorer quickly dominated the browser market. Mozilla took Netscape Navigator and revised it under the name of Firefox. While Microsoft tried to create a proprietary browsing experience with Internet Explorer, Mozilla tried to create an open platform that was also free.
People started rebelling against Internet Explorer because it was slow and it tried to rely too much on proprietary technology like ActiveX. Microsoft also got complacent and let Internet Explorer languish with few improvements but plenty of security flaws that Microsoft took their time to fix. That’s when people started looking for alternatives and Firefox became the main option.
Firefox became so popular that Internet Explorer’s share of the browser market kept steadily declining while Firefox’s share kept steadily increasing. Then something happened. Mozilla got complacent and wasted time pursuing Firefox OS, a mobile operating system to compete against Android and iOS, which made as much sense as trying to compete against Windows, Linux, and macOS. Not surprisingly, Firefox OS never captured any significant market share but did waste time and money for Mozilla as well as taking their focus off Firefox.
While Firefox languished, Google released their Chrome browser that was optimized to work with Gmail and other Google websites. Since Chrome was also free and faster than Firefox, many people simply shifted to Chrome and abandoned Firefox. With shrinking market share, Mozilla is finally fighting back with a new version of Firefox that’s supposedly faster, smaller, and more secure. The big question is are they too late?
Chrome dominates the browser market because it’s still fast, secure, and reliable. The main reason people switched to Firefox away from Internet Explorer was because Internet Explorer was slow, insecure, and incompatible. That’s not the case with Google Chrome.
For Firefox to attract attention requires Chrome to stumble. Failing that, Firefox needs to be so massively superior to Chrome that ordinary computer users will willing switch, just as ordinary computer users eagerly abandoned Internet Explorer. Then again, even if Firefox offers massive improvements over Chrome, Google can just modify Chrome to be nearly as good. As long as the performance gap between Chrome and Firefox isn’t dramatically different, most people will just stay with Chrome.
Firefox is a good browser and their latest version could be the best browser. The problem is that being the best won’t convince people to switch if they current technology is still good enough. Firefox has an uphill battle ahead of them and their success hinges partly on Google to screw up like Microsoft did with Internet Explorer. Will that happen? Probably not, which means Firefox will likely be stuck as an also-ran in the browser market for the near future.