Mozilla has one of the finest stories in the tech space. Facing a seemingly insurmountable competitor that had vanquished bigger firms, Mozilla delivered a browser that offered superior performance to Internet Explorer.
Over time, its browser's popularity grew as word-of-mouth helped the company market the software more effectively than any advertising campaign. Today, Firefox is the world's second most-popular browser behind Internet Explorer. It's widely regarded as superior to Microsoft's alternative.
But over the past few months, something concerning has happened in the open-source world of browsers. Mozilla's Firefox has lost about 2 percent of its market share as Internet Explorer, once thought to be on the decline, has gained. Google's Chrome browser is also increasing its influence since the beginning of the year. For now, Mozilla supporters believe that it's a short-term problem and Firefox will regain lost share. But that might not be the case. In fact, it's entirely possible that Firefox is well on its way to becoming an also-ran in the browser market. Here's why:
1. It's on the decline
There is no debating that Firefox is on the decline. Just a few months ago, the browser had 24 percent market share, according to research firm, NetMarketShare. The company's latest findings for July claim Firefox has 22 percent market share. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer enjoys control over 60 percent of the space, and Chrome, still far behind both browsers, is gaining with more than 7 percent of the market. Google's browser started the year with just 5 percent share. It seems that users are moving from Firefox and going elsewhere. That must be kept in mind whenever it comes time to evaluate the browser market.
2. Internet Explorer's resurgence
Speaking of growth, it's worth noting just how surprising it is to see Internet Explorer stage a comeback in the browser market. Not long ago, Microsoft was thought to be dead in the water. The company's browser was still causing users trouble. It ceased support for Internet Explorer 6, and alternatives such as Firefox and Chrome offered a better value proposition for customers. In short order, Microsoft has regained its share, thanks to the value Internet Explorer 8 is offering. Admittedly those gains aren't much. But they underscore the average consumer's willingness to ditch Firefox and other browsers for Microsoft's alternative. That can't be good for Mozilla.
3. Google Chrome, anyone?
Google might be one of the newer companies to break into the browser space, but already its impact is being felt. As noted, the browser is growing rapidly in the space. And by the looks of things, that growth will continue going forward. Unfortunately for Mozilla, the more Chrome gains, the fewer users will employ Firefox. For the most part, people use Firefox because it's a better alternative to Internet Explorer. If they find that there is an even better alternative on the market from a company that they know, it could spell serious trouble for Mozilla's browser.
4. Mobile plays a role
The mobile market is quickly becoming a key battleground for most browser makers. Apple has its mobile Safari browser running on the iPhone. Google offers its mobile Chrome browser in Android-based devices. Recently, Opera broke into the space with its own mobile browser. Currently, Firefox's mobile efforts leave much to be desired. Considering more and more people use mobile browsers, the last thing Mozilla should want is for those users to get comfortable with a different company's mobile browser and opt for the desktop version. The Halo effect is strong in the browser market. Mozilla must remember that.