Mozilla has hit the 400 million downloads mark for the Firefox web browser client since it was officially launched in November 2004, a rise of 56 percent in the last 12 months alone. Of course, updates, reinstalls and trials are all included in download figures which have little real world impact upon the only statistic that really matters: market share based upon usage. Again, Mozilla will tell you, and indeed told me, that it commands a 28 percent market share across Europe according to the latest figures from XiTiMonitor which also reveals that Internet Explorer enjoys a 66.5 percent share in the same region.
Which is a good result for Firefox, no doubt about that, but how does it pan out when you take a more global view? Well according to a recent PC World report, the answer would appear to be not so hot actually. Quoting figures from NetApplications.com it reckons that Firefox is going backwards in the global share stakes, dropping from 8.71 percent to just 8.07 percent while Internet Explorer is regaining lost ground up from 86.56 percent to 87.2 percent.
Let's just look at that again, without the rose tinted spectacles that Mozilla PR would have me wear: despite 400 million downloads in three years, and despite gaining impressive ground in Europe, the real deal is that Firefox has still not managed to be anything more than a bruise on the big toe of Internet Explorer. It is the browser client I use myself, and I love it for all the right reasons, which is why I am kind of kicked back when I learn that the 'alternative' to Internet Explorer still cannot break that magic 10 percent market share barrier.
Even if it did, 10 percent is hardly likely to really worry the Seattle giants, is it?
Compared to the other alternatives, of course, Firefox is truly storming ahead. That same report has Apple Safari in third place on 2.13 percent, in front of AOL Netscpae on 1.5 percent, and the increasingly poorly looking Opera on just 0.49 percent.
I know that we all once said that Netscape could never be toppled from its position as the King of the Web, and we were all very wrong indeed, but it sure looks that way now regarding Microsoft from where I am sitting.