Is The Fox Getting Paranoid?

25 Nov

So, Mozilla are upgrading their version of Firefox …again. Firefox 7 8 is here only a couple of months after the people over at Mozilla did their last major version upgrade.

Firefox - Google Chrome LogoMozilla’s aggressive rollouts are mainly down to the people at Google Inc. running their popular Chrome browser at version 15. It’s crazy that Chrome has been around half as long as Firefox, yet is more than twice as high regarding current version numbers.

The guys at Mozilla obviously see this as an issue and have incorporated a new policy of releasing versions quicker than you can say ‘Checking for Updates…’ The last 3 major releases have been within 4 months of each other. The first 3 versions were each around 2 years apart. Quite a change in tact.

Not that version numbers really matter that much, I mean, just because your version is higher than the competitions doesn’t mean you’ve got a superior product. Right? However, Mozilla obviously think Google have a psychological advantage over the regular user.

At this rate Mozilla will continue to catch Chrome in the numbers stake. But it’s a risky game to be playing. With every release has to come something significant enough for users to want to upgrade. You can’t just sell it on some minor enhancements and bug fixes. The reduction in time between rollouts will also result in reduced testing time. Which affects us all as end users.

Firefox Broken Add-onsIt’s clear that Mozilla is all about targeting new users with their new strategy. But regular users of the browser are updating so often it’s likely they’ll decide to ignore new versions. With the hassle of broken plugins, broken websites and changes in functionality, who really wants to be updating their web browser every 2 months?

It all points to Mozilla feeling slightly insecure. Rather than spending time sorting out the memory issues and other inherent bugs, they’d rather play catch up with Google. Firefox was brought out in 2004 4 years earlier than Chrome which didn’t release until 2008. According to the stats, Chrome is the 3rd most popular browser (as of July 2011) having around 22.00% worldwide usage and Firefox is the 2nd most popular (as of August 2011), with around a 30% worldwide base.

Mozilla are obviously coming a bit tetchy about Chrome’s rapid rise. It’s fast and clear interface is appealing to regular users. It’s got the major name behind it. It supports extensions and many web developers have access to some excellent tools available for development, design and SEO.

Firefox has a loyal user base but the change in it’s release schedule sends out warning signals. Chrome certainly has the money and brains behind it to be top dog. With the release of Googles own social networking service in the shape of Google+, Chrome can incorporate tight integration into it and if it becomes as successful as Google anticipates, it may be another reason for Mozilla users to jump ship.

It’s clear the next year or so is an important time for Mozilla. Let’s just hope the next few version releases finally sort out the memory issues. After all, who cares if we’re running Version 103.298 if all it does is crash when you have more than 2 tabs open.

About the Author: Chris I'Anson (1 Articles)

Chris I'Anson is a full time web developer based in the lovely city of Newcastle upon Tyne. Check out his website development tips site. When he's not building websites, Chris helps to promote iPhone apps over at iPhoneApp-Reviews.com.

3 Responses to “Is The Fox Getting Paranoid?”

  1. Shane rutter 27. Nov, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    I my self am a loyal Firefox user but the frequency of the major releases are getting me worried, there is also the issue that every time I have upgraded all my adding stop working and there was the issue where one of the major updates stopped all Addons from working or even showing.

    To me it looks like they are now taking shortcuts and giving us a more unstable application then fixing any bugs the community have issues with, I can easily see Firefox decreasing in usage if it continues like this as most of my friends have now moved to chrome due to the updating and stability issues.

  2. Jamie Murphy 15. Dec, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    All these fast rolling updates are useless if they aren’t going to address the most important things such as memory use and reliability. The recent firefox updates have caused the application to crash so often during development I have switched to Google Chrome.

    Sort it out the fox!

  3. Francis Rowe 21. Feb, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    What usually happens is the projects start coming out with CodeNames, rather than VersionNames, for their software.

    It seems to me like Chrome started out as appealing to the general user who wants a simple browser — these people are usually attracted by big version number changes.

    Firefox should adopt a system where they stick to stable versioning (as before) but adopt a versioning scheme similar to this, for their nightlies.

    In fact, why even do that? Because the nightlies are rolling release, they may aswell refer to them by dates.

    Firefox has always had a loyal following among developers and enthusiasts — for their sake, I hope Mozilla does not forget its roots.

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