Firefox 3: 20 Percent Market Share By July?
With Mozilla due to release the final version of its Firefox 3 open source browser this month, there are already strong signs that Firefox is gaining more market share traction. In an interview with Computerworld, web metrics company Net Applications' executives said Firefox's market share grew 0.6 percent in May to account for 18.4 percent of all browsers used during the month. Furthermore, Net Applications forecasts that Firefox will crack 20 percent market share in July. How much will the release of Firefox 3 matter?
In all likelihood, the release of Firefox 3 will have a pronounced effect on Firefox's overall market share. Net Applications' data shows that Firefox's market share rose in May, while Internet Explorer's dropped by a percentage point. Mozilla is doing everything it can to trumpet the upcoming release of version 3 as well. The company has announced a Download Day initiative, where the goal is to earn Firefox 3 a Guinness World Record for most software downloaded in a 24-hour period.
As I noted in a recent Guided Tour of Release Candidate 1 (RC1), there are many reasons why existing users of Firefox are going to upgrade to the new version. In the past, Firefox has had many memory handling problems, and those appear to mostly solved. Performance, though, is the main reason many people will upgrade. The RC1 version is just far faster than previous versions, and is based on a brand new Gecko version 1.9 rendering engine.
According to a piece of analysis from Net Applications found here, it may also prove significant for Firefox that it now includes a checkbox upon installation asking about making Firefox your default browser. (The option is clearly displayed and labeled, unlike the way Apple's Safari browser recently handled the same issue, landing Apple in some hot water.) It's also interesting to look at Net Applications' chart of Firefox 3 usage data.
Mozilla has not yet made clear what date Firefox 3 will go final, but it's very likely that this summer will mark Firefox's first arrival at 20 percent browser market share or better. It is shaping up as one of the true open source engines that could.