Firefox: One billion downloads later

Recent news that the Firefox browser has been downloaded one billion times is just one milestone achieved amongst others

Tags: BrowserFirefoxGoogle ChromeMozilla FoundationUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  August 3, 2009

The Mozilla team clearly enjoys thinking up new milestones. The recent news that the Firefox browser has been downloaded one billion times is just one milestone achieved amongst others, such when the world record was set last year for 8 million downloads of the browser in 24 hours. But there will most probably be bigger milestones achieved once Windows 7 makes its debut.

At the time of writing, there have been 1,003,594,634 downloads of the Firefox browser, according to the Spread Firefox website. The billionth download includes all versions of Firefox released since 2004 (automatic updates have not been included in this figure).

The reality though is that one billion people are not using the browser. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 300 million Firefox users, and this figure is put into perspective when one considers that Microsoft Internet Explorer has been downloaded 200 million times in the last four months.

The stats regarding browser market share are as follows. Firefox has about 31% of the world’s browser share whilst Internet Explorer has 60% and Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Opera are all less than 5%.

Most web visitors use Microsoft Internet Explorer to surf the web primarily because IE is bundled with the Windows operating system. But all of that could change with Microsoft being placed in a position whereby it should be bundled with different internet browsers with Windows 7.

In line with competition laws in the EU, Microsoft are set to include up to 10 of the most popular browsers. This should boost the numbers of the other browser downloads, and some browser developers are even pushing for an icon-less screen for users to be able to have a fairer choice when it comes to the browser they use.

This could result in browser developers focusing more on what the ‘smaller’ browser developers are doing. If you’re viewing this site with the latest Firefox browser, the likelihood is that you would have already noticed the tabbed interface already, which is very similar to the Google Chrome tabbed interface.

The Mozilla Corporation has already displayed mock-ups of what its future browser will look like with the likes of 3.6; and it’s pretty clear that the developers are taking a leaf out of Google Chrome’s book. The Chrome browser has set the standard in terms of giving users a faster internet experience and allowing users to navigate between tabs more easily.

Either way, this competition will make the internet experience better for more people. On another note, the future of the browser might rather reside in the mobile handset and Opera has this market covered with the popularity of the Opera Mobile browser. When one considers that there are billions of mobile handset users, the potential milestones that a browser such as Opera Mobile could achieve might make Firefox’s one billion downloads look a little insignificant.

Gareth Van Zyl is the deputy editor of Windows Middle East English.

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