Firefox apps are here for iOS – but who honestly cares?

12 November 2015, 06:42

Six and a half years ago I was blogging for PC World magazine and I wrote two incendiary pieces about Firefox, making the argument that the Firefox web browser was already dead.

People hated me for it. Just read the comments below the pieces.

Back then Firefox was king of the alternative browsers although most people of the world were still using Internet Explorer 6. Google Chrome was only in beta testing and, in fact, my personal testing of it had inspired what I wrote. It was insanely clear that Chrome was better.

I felt Firefox was bloated and slow, and a shadow of what it had once been. I still do. But here’s what I concluded back then:

In this blogger’s humble opinion, the only way Mozilla can regain ground that is being lost right now is to once again fork the code. Let Firefox continue on its current path (after all, some folks still use the Web like it’s 2004!), but produce an all-new ultra-light ultra-quick application-focused browser. Build in Google Gears, and that new JavaScript engine I keep hearing about. Put simply, look at Google Chrome with envious eyes. It’s the only way forward.

Alas, Mozilla didn’t do any of this. (It’s interesting that Microsoft DID do some of it, creating the Edge browser.)

I don’t know what Mozilla actually did do back then. To be honest, although I liked the organisation a lot, I felt as if they were getting little superior and smug in their overall attitude, believing they were the web rather than just one way of viewing it. They tried to lead, rather than follow – dictating the experience, rather than following what users were doing.

But one of the end results of decisions made back then is that they’ve only just released a browser for iOS (excluding a rather crappy syncing tool from a few years ago).

They’ve released it now, at the end of 2015, when the world is slowly yet totally transitioning to app-based computing (witness the Apple TV, for example) – when the only time you use a browser on mobile is when you can’t find an app that does the job. I can go days without using Safari on my iPhone, and it’s only quick Google look-ups to settle arguments with my wife that means I use it at all most of the time.

So, does anybody care about Mozilla’s efforts?

I can answer that for you that based on the visitor stats for this website. Most of you are on mobile, and using Safari:

Just 5% of us are using Firefox.

What a fall from grace.

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