Firefox

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.

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