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Firefox on the brink? |

Firefox on the brink? |

2023-12-05 08:24:52

Word: This put up was the topic of a Hacker News thread.

A considerably obscure guideline for builders of U.S. authorities web sites could also be about to speed up the lengthy, unhappy decline of Mozilla’s Firefox browser. There already are loads of massive entities, each private and non-private, whose web sites lack correct help for Firefox; and that can get solely worse within the close to future, as a result of the ’fox’s auburn paws are perilously near the lip of the proverbial slippery slope.

The U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) gives a complete set of requirements which information those that construct the U.S. authorities’s many web sites. Its documentation for developers borrows a “2% rule” from its British counterpart:

. . . we formally help any browser above 2% utilization as noticed by

At this writing, that analytics web page reveals the next browser site visitors for the earlier ninety days:

Browser Share
Chrome 49%
Safari 34.8%
Edge 8.4%
Firefox 2.2%
Safari (in-app) 1.9%
Samsung Web 1.6%
Android Webview 1%
Different 1%

I’m personally unaware of any severe motive to imagine that Firefox’s numbers will enhance quickly. Certainly, for the net as an entire, they’ve been declining constantly for years, as this chart reveals:

Chart of browser share for January, 2009, through November, 2023

Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Safari for January, 2009, by way of November, 2023.
Picture: StatCounter.

Firefox peaked at 31.82% in November, 2009 — after which started its lengthy slide in virtually direct proportion to the rise of Chrome. The latter shot from 1.37% use in January, 2009, to its personal peak of 66.34% in September, 2020, since falling again to a “measly” 62.85% within the very newest information.

Whereas these numbers mirror worldwide developments, the U.S.-specific image isn’t actually higher. Actually, as a result of the iPhone is so fashionable within the U.S. — which is clear from what you see on that aforementioned authorities analytics web page — Safari pulls massive numbers that additionally damage Firefox.

In my days in tech advertising and marketing, we used to fret about how a dominant competitor would take “shelf house” in these massive shops the place we needed visibility for our items and their accompanying point-of-purchase brochures. (Keep in mind point-of-purchase literature, fellow folks?) Effectively, Firefox is rapidly dropping “internet house,” because of an ideal storm that’s been kicked up by the dominance of Chrome, the recognition of cell gadgets that run Safari by default, and lots of company and authorities IT retailers’ insistence that their customers depend on solely Microsoft’s Chromium-based Edge browser whereas toiling away every day.

With such a seamless free-fall, Firefox is inevitably nearing the purpose the place USWDS will take away it, like Web Explorer earlier than it, from the record of supported browsers.

“So what?” you could marvel. “That’s only for internet builders within the U.S. authorities. It doesn’t have an effect on another internet devs.”

Truly, it very nicely may. Right here’s how I envision the dominoes falling:

  1. As soon as Firefox slips under the two% threshold within the authorities’s customer analytics, USWDS tells authorities internet devs they don’t should help Firefox anymore.
  2. When that phrase will get out, it spreads rapidly to not solely the front-end dev neighborhood but in addition the company IT departments for whom some internet devs work. Many companies do plenty of enterprise with the federal government and, thus, no matter the federal government does from an IT standpoint goes to affect what companies do.
  3. Firms see this alteration as a chance to decrease dev prices and supply instances, in that it gives an excuse to take away some testing (and, in uncommon instances, particular coding) from their growth workflow.

. . . and identical to that, in much less time than you may suppose, Firefox — the free/open-source browser that was supposed to save lots of the world from the jackboots of Web Explorer (which had killed Firefox’s ancestor, Netscape Navigator) — is lowered to everlasting standing as a shrinking a part of the fractured miscellany that litters the underside of browser market-share charts.

I absolutely hope I’m incorrect about this, however I concern I’m not.

Practically 5 years in the past, because the information broke that Microsoft had determined to maneuver its Edge browser to the Blink engine that additionally powers Google Chrome, I wrote:

See Also

Supporting a number of browser engines — even when there’s a Actually Large Canine engine amongst them that’s about to get even greater — ain’t at all times enjoyable, however it goes with the territory; and I firmly imagine it can proceed to take action, particularly for websites which might be business in nature.

That agency perception stays unchanged, however the which means of the “a number of browser engines” half is in severe hazard of serious change. Except one thing dramatically reverses Firefox’s developments, the ’fox may quickly be whimpering its approach down an unpleasant, slippery slope to irrelevance.

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