At the end of 2008, Firefox was flying high. Twenty percent of the 1.5 billion people online were using Mozilla’s browser to navigate the web. In Indonesia, Macedonia, and Slovenia, more than half of everyone going online was using Firefox. “Our market share in the regions above has been growing like crazy,” Ken Kovash, Mozilla’s data analytics team manager at the time, wrote in a blog post. Almost 15 years later, things aren’t so rosy. From a report:
Across all devices, the browser has slid to less than 4 percent of the market – on mobile it’s a measly half a percent. “Looking back five years and looking at our market share and our own numbers that we publish, there’s no denying the decline,” says Selena Deckelmann, senior vice president of Firefox. Mozilla’s own statistics show a drop of around 30 million monthly active users from the start of 2019 to the start of 2022. “In the last couple years, what we’ve seen is actually a pretty substantial flattening,” Deckelmann adds.
In the two decades since Firefox launched from the shadows of Netscape, it has been key to shaping the web’s privacy and security, with staff pushing for more openness online and better standards. But its market share decline was accompanied by two rounds of layoffs at Mozilla during 2020. Next year, its lucrative search deal with Google – responsible for the vast majority of its revenue – is set to expire. A spate of privacy-focused browsers now compete on its turf, while new-feature misfires have threatened to alienate its base. All that has left industry analysts and former employees concerned about Firefox’s future. Its fate also has larger implications for the web as a whole. For years, it was the best contender for keeping Google Chrome in check, offering a privacy-forward alternative to the world’s most dominant browser.