June 18th of 2008 was a very big day for me and millions of savvy Internet users around the world. Although never being the kind of person to get overly excited for release dates, I took a special exception for this event; getting up early and immediately firing up my computer in sheer anticipation of the release ahead of me. What was I so excited to get my hands on? It wasn’t a video game, it wasn’t a fruit-branded mobile handset, and it wasn’t a new album. I was waiting rather anxiously for the 3.0 release of the Mozilla Firefox web-browser, which many at the time saw as the best browser for hardcore and casual Internet users alike. Having freed myself from the shackles of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer only a few months earlier, getting my hands on the latest Firefox release was the only thing on my mind that morning.
Now, since then my love for Firefox has definitely dimmed down quiet a bit, and with the obsessive phase behind me I really don’t get excited for any releases of anything anymore. But when it comes to Firefox, my care about each update is night and day from what what it was only a few years ago. Especially with the new rapid-paced release cycle that has drawn criticism from all sides, no single update of the browser feels as “special” as it once would have.
In fact, I haven’t vested much care in any Firefox release since the new release cycle was put into place. Sure, I’ve downloaded each one at one point or another, but in all honesty none of the new releases have impressed me. Whereas browsers like Google Chrome are managing to improving subtly and seem to be focusing on providing a solid browser, Firefox seems to me like what Internet Explorer was a few years ago; outdated, bloated, and lacking the compatibility and features that we’re seeing elsewhere. It literally feels clunky, inefficient, and unresponsive on my MacBook Pro, and I simply cannot see myself using it as a full-time browser.
And statistically speaking, I don’t seem to be the only one viewing Firefox as a sub-par browser. With W3Schools showing Firefox as having a 45.8% market-share in August of 2010, that number dropped down to 42.8% in January of this year and 40.6% in August of this year. At the same time, Google’s Chrome browser managed to go from holding a 14.0% market-share in August of last year, rising to slightly under 24% in January and just over 30% in August of this year, nearly doubling its reach in a year.
But why has a once solid browser gone downhill so fast, and why hasn’t it been able to keep up with the competition? Asides from the fact that the browser feels clunky and seems to eat memory resources like it’s at an all-you-can-eat buffet, the browser’s rendering engine simply isn’t as up to date. I can’t tell you how many websites just didn’t load right when I tried using Firefox last month, and after a while using the browser simply seemed pointless. And the synchronization and integration with Google services that Chrome has simply cannot be matched in Firefox.
Don’t get me wrong, Firefox isn’t a bad browser at all, especially considering the other lesser alternatives out there. But really, Chrome is the new Firefox and Firefox is the new Internet Explorer, and I for one am actually upset that Firefox doesn’t seem to be getting any better with all the developmental efforts that seem to be going into it.