Will Firefox Lose Its Users?

By | May 16, 2008

Is Firefox a Spyware?After “Firefox to Track User Data?” post, there were lots of bad comments regarding this new feature. People all over the internet started to express their opinion (from posts like “go to hell” to “Firefox is spyware”, etc). Some of them are already looking for a replacement of their favorite browser.

While user tracking project is still on early stage and it will be possible to turn this feature off, that haven’t convinced most of the Firefox browser users.

Firefox is (or was?) a name which you can always trust, right? No spyware, everything is clean. But what happened now? After Firefox became a popular web browser (see April market share data here), something happened.

Have they changed their vision? Or just made a mistake? Will Firefox users still trust this browser? And most of all, should web browsers do that at all?

About (Author Profile)

Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded FavBrowser.com. Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

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  1. Opera Doesn’t Respect Users (aka Lost Vision)? | June 26, 2008
  1. QC says:

    Meh, just sounds like trolls trolling to me.

    “Rudiger, Tom, tekonaut, nobody plans to make this spyware, I tried to make it clear that we’d only do this by figuring out a way to be very very opt-in, the data would be open to everyone, and not personal in any way. That’s why we’re talking about it in the very early stages as we explore the space.” – John

    “Enables everyone — from individual researchers and entrepreneurs (both the social and capitalist types) to the largest organizations in the world — to take usage data, mix it up, mash it up, derive insight, and hopefully share some of that insight with others.” – John

    How the heck are people able to read that as “spyware that sells the users information”‽

    Also, if this is ever implemented it is most likely as an extension just like Spectator ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6326 )

  2. myname says:

    Honestly! The falling market share is an absolutely non-issue.
    Your comments on FF are ok but your blatant misuse of statistics is appalling.

    You are talking about a subtle 0.06% shift March to April.

    According to your logic something much worse must have happened last June/July to trigger a fall in FF market share of 0.18% (3 times larger fall)

    Of course, you’re angry with the direction of FF and are now projecting your own feelings on the internet community at large but without any substance you cling on to this irrelevant shift.

  3. QC,

    I think it happens once they hear word “track”.

    myname, sorry, I didn’t mean’t it to sound like that. The data I provided (April’s data) was just for visitors to check how many % of market Firefox owns.

    All those tracking posts haven’t affected that data, because it was posted on May, though it will be interesting to see what happened to Firefox market share this month (once they shared some details about tracking).

    We will know that on the 1st day of next month.

  4. Alex K says:

    How it could affect market share if it was reported this month? What’s your logic?


  5. myname says:

    Ok! Sorry for sounding rude,
    I apparently misunderstood, but the comment is still easily read as if the statistics shows a fall caused by FF tracking. I can see now that it can be interpreted differently.

  6. Mark says:

    Anyone still using Firefox, when then are free and much better browsers like Opera around are pretty dumb anyway.

  7. Morbus says:

    As has been said before, the loss of market-share is a non-issue. Mozilla has their hands full as it is, and they’re probably more than happy to loose those customers that know very little or nothing at all about the development process. Because it doesn’t really matter. Mozilla wants users that know what they use and why they use it. They said they don’t [i]want[/i] to have many users, they just want them to be good users. And people that “betray” them at the first sign of trouble, those aren’t good users.

    All in all: good riddance.

    We want a good browser, not a browser that many people have. Of course we want people to enjoy good things, and also the fact that many use firefox contributes to the number of extensions available, but what really matters is how good the browser is.

  8. Morbus says:

    Also, I think you all should remember that Firefox 2, despite being a relatively old and outdated software already (in comparison to Firefox 3), despite all its flaws (mainly it’s memory usage) is and has been gaining market-share for the last half year. Even though it has received no update for its features, and even though it’s slower and heavier than its most direct competition (Opera and Safari). So, if you ask me, when Firefox 3 comes out next month, Fx’s market-share will go sky-high, data-sharing or not. I have no doubts.

  9. Morbus says:

    Also, Mark, you are mistaken.

    Firefox is way better than Opera, ONLY because of his extensions. You can find NO BROWSER with as many features, useful features at that, as firefox. FTP client, mail client, image uploader, file upload, GOOD adblocking, flashblocking, cookie management, javascript management, awesome bookmarking, awesome history search, awesome quick search, password manager and login manager, download manager and accelerator, DOM inspector, loads of options and customization switches and whatnot, notes, social features (meebo, igoogle, stumble upon, footyfox, whatever), form manager, WEBPAGE CUSTOMIZATION (yeah, that’s right, stylish and greasemonkey), irc client, automatic spell checking, BETTER tab experience (due to the loads of options you have to customize your browser behavior to your will), tons of web developer features, ie tab, locationbar2 (a wonderful extension, as well as menu editor), rightclick dictionary and translator, tinyurl link detection (prevents phishing), smart language manager, screenshot manager, embedded media download… And more, much more. All inside the fastest and lightest browser around? How exactly is poor buggy opera better than that?

  10. Bernardo says:

    Eh, I don’t see why they should have a problem with it – but then, I’ve seen tons of people make a lot out of nothing.
    I see this as a great opportunity for many people, and I think that anyone who just labels this as spyware should think about it before they open their mouths crying about it.

  11. net ranger says:

    you must be joking.

    little headlines like this crap won’t make me change to any one
    of the hundreds of sorry browsers.

    for me… it’s firefox now & forever!!


  12. Dan Webster says:

    You people are high! Firefox is the biggest, fattest piece of bloated shit browser that’s out there. The thing crashes when I look at it cross-eyed. I use Safari and only launch Firefox when I’m forced to. The Firefox engineers are insane, they like adding and removing features between builds, so they can’t be trusted to release a consistent product. I think it’s great that children and retarded adults have a browser but the rest of us, the adults, need something that’s not going to explode every 5 minutes.

  13. Morbus says:

    With all due respect, sir, I’m not high. Firefox is not bloated. It starts slow, a bit, that’s something Gecko apps have been know for a long time, but it’s very fast while browsing, as has been proved by empirical experience and benchmarks, and is also lighter on the long run, as has also been proved by both experience and benchmarks. It’s not lighter than Opera or even IE in the short run, but it sure is lighter than poor safari in EVERY SINGLE OCCASION. And even though Safari is very quick in web rendering, firefox beats it in javascript and html rendering, and is there when it comes to DOM. And it’s lighter. in the short run, but a tiny difference, and in the long run, by a HUGE difference. After a day of browsing, you Firefox 3 will most likely be around 80KB with one tab, while Safari will be around 200KB. How ’bout that?

    Also, it doesn’t crash. Not in my experience. At least not much. I have one crash in a week, maybe, and I surf a lot. Safari crashes much more, so much that the first ten minutes I used it, it froze and I had to kill it and restart the process… Not good. Now Opera, that’s a browser I’ve never EVER seen crashing, don’t know why, don’t know how, but if come to me saying Safari is more stable that Firefox and that Firefox crashes and you don’t mention Opera? I’ll say you’re high ;)

    And what features are you talking about that have been added and removed between builds? You certainly are not talking about alpha or even beta builds because those are internal builds, they do whatever hell they well please with them.

    And I’m sure you’re very adult and all, but Firefox exploding every 5 minutes? I know some people have problems with it (most of them use Windows ME and Windows XP Home Edition SP1), but exploding every 5 minutes? Eheh, good for you that you found your perfect browser or whatever it is. Because for me, and I speak for myself (yeah, I love defending what I like, everyone does), Firefox is the best, and I’m yet to encounter a single browser that even begins to be a little bit as good as it is. And Safari? Ahaha. Apples Internet Explorer. Bloated unsophisticated corporate crap. Fast neat-looking crap, but crap nonetheless. Because, at the end of the day, power-users like myself can’t live without choice and control over their machine and their software, and when you take away our extensions, our hundreds, thousands of extensions, there’s no way you’ll make us change… At least not me.

    You know, there was a time, when I thought I could live without them, and I tried to switch to opera. But I couldn’t even begin to bear the limited choices in toolbar customization, let alone live without my 70+ extensions that help me every day. :)

  14. Mark says:

    LOL, sounds like Morbus has never even tried Opera. As Opera has almost EVERY SINGLE FEATURE he listed there, right out the box, without the security nightmare that Firefox Extensions are..

  15. Morbus says:

    Eheh, ya funny:
    FTP client (FireFTP specifically), image uploader (ImageBot, specifically), file upload (Gspace specifically), GOOD adblocking (because Opera’s sucks), cookie management (cookie safe specifically), javascript management (NoScript specifically), awesome history search (awesomebar specifically), awesome quick search (easy drag’n’drop quicksearch on background tab, not mention making a quick search engine out of EVERY search form), DOM inspector, loads of options and customization switches and whatnot (TabMixPlus specifically, but also gui:config, configuration mania and others), notes (FoxNotes and others), social features (meebo, igoogle, stumble upon, footyfox, whatever), webpage customization (stylish and greasemonkey), automatic spell checking, better tab experience (due to the loads of options you have to customize your browser behavior to your will), tons of web developer features, locationbar2, menu editor, tinyurl link detection (prevents phishing), smart language manager, screenshot manager, embedded media download (unplug specifically, but others too).

    Opera doesn’t have those.

    And Firefox Extensions are NOT a security nightmare. Of course, if you try experimental ones, you have to revise the code yourself, but that’s why they are experimental. Stop being paranoiac.

  16. Mancho says:

    Opera has FTP functionality built in. I wouldn’t exactly call it a client, but it has it. Opera’s adblocking does need work. Opera also has site specific cookie/script/content(java/plugins)/network management plus the ability to create site specific css. Opera 9.5 beta has full history search in the address bar, Opera has right click quick search with ability to choose from any search engine added to choices. New search engines can be added from right clicking search box, plus you can make the search into and address bar shortcut. Almost every single element of opera can be customized. Opera has notes, which are searchable and are linked to the page from which the note was made. Spell checking would be nice. Opera just released an alpha of Dragonfly which has full DOM/Script/CSS inspection, plus will have real-time editing. Opera has phishing detection, plus the ability to report potential threats plus certificate fraud detection and validation.

    It looks like you’ve never even taken a look at Opera, so until you do ,you should consider buttoning up.

  17. nobody says:

    well, Opera in fact lacks in many ‘features’ it has. most of them are from previous century and were never upgraded since. like cookie management that needs urgent work etc. firefox, due to extensions development moved to 3rd party, can manage to have them mostly up to date

    Opera company simply doesnt have enough manpower to catch up with extension developers. yes, catch up, because Opera is far behind FF in functionality now. due to extensions.

    problem is, that Opera is stuborn to NOT adopt extensions, because of some stupid reasons, and is trying to catch up with rendering engine AND dev tools AND functionality from other browsers AND mail client. no company can do it, and opera is no exception. it is a big FAIL as for now. Opera is SLOW compared to FF3, Opera lacks features compared to FF3 (extensions), Opera is not developing fast enough to show any hope of catching up (what new functionalities were added since 9.0? how many USEFULL new extensions were made in that time?) and most of all, Opera is largely ignored by website makers – due to lack of marketshare and stuborn policy of development – lack of ability to bend to ‘industry standards’ when it comes to standard implementation. nobody cares about it, and Opera fails on websites. it is Opera’ fault.

  18. Morbus says:

    @ mancho
    Opera has it, but it’s not a FireFTP, and FireFTP is a little client, nothing major. About the cookies (and the javascript), how can you compare it to CookieSafe and NoScript? Also, Firefox’s quick search is faster because you only have to drag the word to the quicksearch bar, either searching right away or choosing the search engine. Less clicks, thus I find it easier and simplier. And history search in the adress bar is really cool, but I think it needs working, and Fx3’s “awesome bar” turns out to work better.

    And I have looked into Opera, not the lastest, no. Opera 9.20 or something around that. I remember installing 9.10 and then the one after that.

    My point is, even though it has many features by default, and it has, always has had and will porbably always have, much more that Firefox (and it’s a wonder, trully, that it stays a small download), Firefox has more when you take extensions into account. And you ahve to take extensions into account because they are taken into account when Firefox is being developed. Opera has a mail client, for example, but what if I don’t want that one, or I don’t want a mail client at all? It’s there for nothing. Same thing happens with other features. They are there, ok, but most people, or at least some won’t need or want them. That’s not a good thing in my eyes. My firefox? Every single feature it has is a feature I use. Lots of extensions, sure, but I use Firefox for many things and in many ways. And that? I can’t do that with any other browser, and I can’t find as many features in any other browser.

    I didn’t know of that CSS editor you talk about, and I haven’t explorer the latest Operas in detail (though I installed them for benchmarking purposes), but that doesn’t mean I’m talking for the sake of it…

    Because to me, it looks like YOU have never looked at the best and most usefull extensions for firefox. Or it doesn’t look that way, I don’t know… Whatever, each person finds his favorite browser (this site’s called that way, eheh). Some people prefer IE (I don’t know many), others safari, and so on. The way I browse, the way I use my browser, I need firefox and its extensions. And since I can’t find the same functions and features in any other browser, including Opera, I say Firefox has more features than the competition… Maybe I’m wrong in taking addons into account when talking about features, maybe I am, but what really matters to anyone is the final product they are actually using, not how it’s made or how it works. And if my firefox need extensions to work the way I want it to, then I’m ok with it.

    @ nobody
    Opera lacks manpower… Should I remind everyone why Mozilla moved to open source back in 1998? ;) Yeah, I love the open source.

    And I agree with you.

  19. Mancho says:


    I’m not going to dog on Firefox. I love Firefox and it’s ability to extend all kinds of functionality. To call them features is a bit of a reach, but I’ll let it slide. My point was you said Opera doesn’t have those features, which is total BS. Just because you don’t think they are equivalent of the “features” in FF doesn’t mean Opera doesn’t have them.

    No, I’m not intimately familiar with every extension available for FF, so to suggest that I might be familiar with what YOU call the best and most useful would be ridiculous. Either you just forgot that you said Opera doesn’t have any of those features, or you’re just dense.

  20. Morbus says:

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I didn’t mean that Opera didn’t have ANY of the features or functions I first said in that first list, I meant that it’s a pack of features that is impossible to find somewhere else. I meant the whole, not each one of them in particular. I know Opera has a mail client.

    About you know all extensions, it was a jest. No need to get all upset.

  21. Mancho says:

    As far as I know FF doesn’t have those features as a “pack” either. You would need to download an extension for most of those features, one by one. I could be wrong though. If you want to compare features as a pack, then Opera wins hands-down, since they’re built into the browser, whereas FF has almost nothing built in. This is neither a good thing or bad thing, only preference. So this really reduces your argument to “I like FF because I think all of the extensions that I found and installed, that may or may not be a security risk, and that I happen to think are the most useful, are better than what Opera has built in.”

    Well, contratulations. You have a favorite browser.

  22. Morbus says:

    Sure opera wins as a pack, in terms of features.

    But don’t try to “reduce” my arguments. I have my arguments, and they are my own to express, thank you very much. I like Fx because it’s faster, secure, lighter and has all the features and functions I need a web browser to have, and it works the way I want it to. It’s what is most useful for ME, not for somebody else. And in what concerns security risks, I trust approved extensions just as much as I trust the browser itself. As for experimental extensions, I revise their code myself, so I know what I’m dealing with.

    No, extensions are not security issues.

    My point is, one’s argument that “opera’s better than firefox” boils down to a fact that is wrong, in a way. Opera is better than Firefox because it has more features. That’s not necessarily true, and that’s my argument.

    I’m not sure what’s your problem here. Is it me? Am not being communicative enough or am I just missing something that you put the whole “I like FF because I think all of the extensions that I found and installed, that may or may not be a security risk, and that I happen to think are the most useful, are better than what Opera has built in” in my mouth and think you’re right?

  23. Mancho says:

    The only problem I have is with your initial claim that Opera doesn’t have the features that you listed. Your further effort to clarify that position hasn’t really helped your argument. And if you think that the only argument for Opera being better than FF is the claim that it has more features, you haven’t paid attention to the arguments. Most people use Opera for a multitude of reasons. It is faster (check the benchmarks), more secure, lighter, and has most of the features people want, not to mention some people don’t want to have to look for extensions, and figure out which ones are any good, just to get some functionality out of their browser. (Why do you think so many FF extensions copy Opera functionality?) Is there room for improvement? Certainly. Personally, I think saying one is better than the other is like saying chocolate is better than vanilla. Vanilla being FF, of course. *snicker*

  24. Morbus says:

    That was my point. It’s not faster than Firefox 3. Check the benchmarks. More secure? I don’t know, really, as I haven’t paid much attention to secunia reports and whatnot, but I’d say they are both very secure, and Firefox is more when you get NoScript and AdBlock Plus… It’s also heavier than Firefox 3, check the benchmarks.

    Some Opera features are copied by some Fx extensions. Say SecureLogin, All-in-one-sidebar or Flashblock. That’s because Opera has some nice features. Thing is, Firefox also has them, and sometimes better… All-in-on-sidebar sure is better…

  25. Armin says:

    Just because Opera works with Google I don’t like his policy. Maybe it sounds retarded for the people but i hate this company.