from the quantum-leap dept.
When Firefox was introduced in 2004, it was designed to be a lean and optimized web browser, based on the bloated code from the Mozilla Suite. Between 2004 and 2009, many considered Firefox to be the best web browser, since it was faster, more secure, offered tabbed browsing and was more customizable through extensions than Microsoft's Internet Explorer. When Chrome was introduced in 2008, it took many of Firefox's best ideas and improved on them. Since 2010, Chrome has eaten away at Firefox's market share, relegating Firefox to a tiny niche of free software enthusiasts and tinkerers who like the customization of its XUL extensions.
According to StatCounter, Firefox's market share of web browsers has fallen from 31.8% in December 2009 to just 6.1% today. Firefox can take comfort in the fact that it is now virtually tied with its former arch-nemesis, Internet Explorer and its variants. All of Microsoft's browsers only account for 6.2% of current web browsing according to StatCounter. Microsoft has largely been replaced by Google, whose web browsers now controls 56.5% of the market. Even worse, is the fact that the WebKit engine used by Google now represents over 83% of web browsing, so web sites are increasingly focusing on compatibility with just one web engine. While Google and Apple are more supportive of W3C and open standards than Microsoft was in the late 90s, the web is increasingly being monopolized by one web engine and two companies, whose business models are not always based on the best interests of users or their rights.
Former Mozilla VP, Johnathan Nightingale, has called out on Google for what could only be termed as anti-competitive practices. In a Twitter thread on a somewhat unrelated subject, Nightingale said that during his 8 years at Mozilla, Google was the company's biggest partner. "Our revenue share deal on search drove 90% of Mozilla's income," he tweeted.
However, that doesn't mean Google wasn't involved in some underhand practices. "When I started at Mozilla in 2007 there was no Google Chrome and most folks we spoke with inside were Firefox fans," Nightingale wrote. "When chrome launched things got complicated, but not in the way you might expect. They had a competing product now, but they didn't cut ties, break our search deal – nothing like that. In fact, the story we kept hearing was, 'We're on the same side. We want the same things.'"
"I think our friends inside google genuinely believed that. At the individual level, their engineers cared about most of the same things we did. Their product and design folks made many decisions very similarly and we learned from watching each other. But Google as a whole is very different than individual googlers," Nightingale added.
Google Chrome ads started appearing next to Firefox search terms. gmail & gdocs started to experience selective performance issues and bugs on Firefox. Demo sites would falsely block Firefox as "incompatible."
All of this is stuff you're allowed to do to compete, of course. But we were still a search partner, so we'd say "hey what gives?"
And every time, they'd say, "oops. That was accidental. We'll fix it in the next push in 2 weeks."
Previously: After 10 Years with Google, Firefox Switches to Yahoo
Netmarketshare Claims Mozilla Firefox Usage Drops Below Ten Percent
Mozilla CEO Warns Microsoft's Switch to Chromium Will Give More Control of the Web to Google
Is Google Using an "Embrace, Extend..." Strategy?
Google Denies Altering YouTube Code to Break Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Employee Sparks Outrage by Suggesting Firefox Switch Browser Engine to Chromium
Related: Firefox 29 is a Flop; UI Design Trends Only Getting Worse
Mozilla Teases Chromium-Based Firefox, Then Pulls Back
Can the New Firefox Quantum Regain its Web Browser Market Share?
Firefox 64 Will Remove Support for RSS and Atom Feeds
Microsoft Reportedly Building a Chromium-Based Web Browser to Replace Edge, and "Windows Lite" OS