Firefox's Rumored Death is Greatly Exaggerated
There's misguided analysis out there this week (see here, here, and to some extent here for examples) on how supposedly Firefox is dead or in trouble. Better stop the presses: it sure isn't happening yet. In the first 24 hours following the browser's official release, consumers have downloaded it more than 4.7 million times, double the rate for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 debut last week. Downloads continue at a fairly torrid pace - you can follow here.
Firefox 4′s success is evidence of the fact that consumers are still looking past Microsoft when it comes to browsers. According to NetApplications, Internet Explorer's market share is now down to 57 percent. IE has been on a consistent decline for the past several years, and the upstart success of Chrome (which now has 11 percent of the market), and Firefox (at about 22 percent), show that consumers are ready for life post-Microsoft.
IE9 won't turn Microsoft's fortunes around in browsers, and neither Microsoft's woes nor Mozilla's alleged certain death have anything to do with Web app support (reading the Firefox roadmap answers that critique, which I covered here, and check out Jared's story on the Mozilla Web Apps platform). The challenge is called tablets.
While some of us in the tech blogosphere have poked a little fun at Steve Jobs' "post-PC" comments, he's on to something. With tablets now a legitimate force, it is only a matter of time before these devices begin to affect market share. How else do you think Safari has been able to grow its market share so quickly? I highly doubt that many are downloading Safari for Windows, frankly.
These devices will help either Chrome (for Android devices) or Safari (for iOS). As people increase their web use through tablets, it will come at the further expense of Internet Explorer and even Firefox too. Microsoft has no real plans in tablets for at least another year, and that's going to hurt.