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Firefox 4 Downloads Soar as Market Share Stagnates
Firefox 4 Downloads Soar as Market Share Stagnates

By Mark Long
April 25, 2011 2:04PM

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More than 104.5 copies of Mozilla's Firefox 4 have been downloaded, but there are no signs the browser is gaining market share. Mozilla plans a marketing campaign, but adopters so far appear to be current Firefox users. While Firefox 4 downloads have passed Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft can afford to take its time since IE is dominant.

Worldwide downloads of Firefox 4 reached 100 million during the weekend and exceeded 104.5 million downloads as of Monday afternoon, according to browser maker Mozilla. Despite the brisk uptake during the new browser's first month of availability, however, there are no signs that Mozilla is growing its global market share.

What the milestone does demonstrate is that many existing Firefox users are highly interested in getting their hands on the performance improvements that Mozilla has made to Firefox 4, which includes a new JagerMonkey JavaScript engine featuring faster graphics rendering as well as WebM format support for the playback of HD-quality videos online. Firefox 4 also integrates an open standard for accelerated 3D graphic rendering called WebGL, which eliminates the need for users to install special browser plug-ins.

"If all goes according to plan, we'll be letting Firefox 3.5 and 3.6 users know about Firefox 4 [through an] 'advertised' or 'prompted' update in about 10 days," noted Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's community coordinator for Firefox marketing. "I'll bet we see a nice uptick in the Firefox 4 trend when we actually start to communicate its availability to users of older Firefox versions," Dotzler wrote in a blog.

Premature at Best

According to Dublin-based StatCounter, Firefox 4's market share reached 8.13 percent on Sunday, whereas Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 market share stood at 2.86 percent. "Firefox 4 has really hit the ground running and has eclipsed the launch of IE 9," noted StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen, "although IE9 has undoubtedly been hampered by its lack of compatibility with Windows XP."

By applying all its resources to modern versions of Windows, Microsoft appears to be willing to sacrifice usage share in the short term to leapfrog the competition in the long run, Net Applications noted. "Although Windows XP currently has 54 percent of global usage share, Windows 7 usage share is following a strong, fairly linear path upward and Windows versions from Vista forward should have a majority share within a couple of years," the web-metrics firm's researchers wrote in a blog.

Although Dotzler noted that Firefox 4's adoption is considerably higher than Microsoft is seeing for IE9, viewing Firefox 4 and IE9 side by side currently does not make for a valid comparison, Senior Director of IE Marketing Ryan Gavin asserted

"At this point [it] is premature at best, and misleading at worst," Gavin wrote in a blog. "In a few months we'll be better placed to look at the share of the latest browser versions and get a sense for relative progress and adoption." (continued...)

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