Set a Firefox world record on Download Day is the message being trumpeted loud and clear from Mozilla HQ as the launch of the Firefox 3.0 web browser gets ever closer. It seems that the Mozilla people are serious as well, with talk of an official Guinness World Record ratification for the most downloads of a piece of software in 24 hours being pushed for here. "It’s a whole lot easier and safer than donning a beard of bees or underwater jump roping" proclaims the Mozilla Blog, continuing "with your help the Firefox community can go down in history!"
Now I am not averse to a little innovative marketing, and let's face it Mozilla and Firefox certainly know how to milk the hyperbole cow, but I cannot help but wonder if downloads in a day is the record they ought to be aiming at. Surely the only one that really counts is biggest share of the web browser market, and I honestly do not see Microsoft fretting too much about losing that particular place in the Internet record books any time soon. Even with the might of the open source movement behind it, the undeniable public distaste for the Microsoft machine and ongoing security and privacy stories bringing negative publicity to Internet Explorer while bigging up the Mozilla product; even with all that going for it Firefox can still only lay claim to a 22 percent market share in the US and 29 percent in Europe.
Don't get me wrong, those figures are great when compared to expectations of market share a few short years ago when it seemed that Internet Explorer was totally unshakeable. But is a global share of around 21 percent really enough? Especially when you consider that it is still Internet Explorer that is mopping up the king's share of the remaining user gravy?
I am a self-confessed Firefox fanboy and have been for many years now. Indeed, I doubt I would need to use all my fingers and toes to count the number of times I have fired up Internet Explorer in the last three or four years to be honest. But I am out of ideas as to how to chip away, to any meaningful end, at that Microsoft lead when it comes to browser users. Download Day is a good publicity stunt, but ultimately nothing more. It's not as if there is even an existing record to beat, this will be the first ever ratified record attempt for software downloads in a 24 hour period. You can join the people pledging support at the download site to get an idea of the likely totals, a figure which is increasing by a few hundred every minute as I write this. But you would be better off explaining why Firefox is a safer and better browser to your family and friends and convincing them to change?