What Happened To You, Firefox?

It’s worth taking a look at the browser statistics and their trends. In the table below you can see the market share of the main browsers in 2016 and 2017. On this link you can check the numbers from the former years, too. The current market share numbers are also interesting but I think the trends are even more interesting.


In 2003 Internet Explorer dominated the web browser market with a massive 88% market share. Since then it has continuously declined and reached the 4.6% in April 2017 (IE+Edge together). IE had very bad days, it used to be the most hated browser. But I think it has changed by now. IE, especially Edge now has a better reputation.

Firefox was on the top in 2009 with a 47.9% market share, and it was the most popular browser in the next 2 years. Then it started to decline and reached the 13.6% in April 2017. The decline seems to continue and I have a kinda feeling that it’s taking over the most hated browser role from IE. At least among developers and software engineers. Please read on and you will see what I mean.

Chrome has increased its market share from 3.1% to 75.7% in the 2008–2017 time frame. It’s a pretty significant achievement. It looks like many Firefox and IE users switched to Chrome. Chrome is currently the fastest browser, but it is also true that many users complain about the high RAM usage. Personally I have never had any problem with the high RAM usage.

Safari has a had a pretty stable 3–4% market share since 2009 and it doesn’t seem it will change. I think this number rather represents the Mac users, I don’t think that there are many users who use Safari on Windows.

Opera is kind of an odd one out. I think this is the most underrated browser considering its market share that has always been around 1–2%. A few weeks ago I gave it a try. It’s pretty fast (users claim that is faster than Chrome) and lightweight. I didn’t have a chance to use it for a longer time, but my first impressions were very positive. One day it might become a very popular browser.

Firefox through the eyes of a developer

When 3 years ago I started to develop Ninja I thought that IE would be the most problematic browser from the browser specific issues point of view. This is what I used to hear from other developers. Then came the big surprise. IE had only minor issues I could get around quickly, but Firefox was a different story. While IE had only some cosmetic, rendering issues, Firefox had JavaScript/jQuery related functional issues. In other words, what worked in the other browser flawlessly, didn’t work in Firefox. I spent hours with debugging and trying to figure out how to get around these issues. The most weird fix (or rather hack) was when I had to add a 0.1 s delay before a JavaScript function call, otherwise the function was not called.

Then my experiences were confirmed. I heard from several sources that Firefox caused a big headache for other developers, too, so it was not just me. I also saw a tweet from a software engineer “Firefox is the new IE”.

Firefox and my browser extensions

I created 2 browser extensions for Ninja. You can read the story in this blog post. One of the extensions is very simple, it just opens the Ninja Dashboard in a new tab, it gives the users a quick access to their bookmarks. The other extension is not that simple, it brings up the “Add to Ninja” dialog where you can select which Tab/Category you want to add the bookmark to or you can also add tags to the bookmark. I submitted both extensions to the Chrome web store and to the Firefox add-ons store, too. Then came another surprise. Firefox rejected my submission of the “simpler” extension. Just because it is too simple… Here’s the official explanation:

Since your add-on only opens a web page in a separate tab, it cannot be listed. You are welcome to upload a newer version with increased functionality.

Wow! Fortunately they offered another option. I can get my extension signed by Firefox and instead of having it in the Firefox add-ons store I can host it on my own website. This is what I did. But unfortunately this was again another disappointment with Firefox.



  1. I used to use Chrome for the last 2-3 years as far as I can remember but just a month ago came back to FF. My Chrome was creating a very irritating thing. It used to freeze while scrolling. Cleaning cookie and some other tweaks didn’t helped. Another thing was whenever I switched to any tab it would go white and sharrt loading again taking 10-12 secs. Came back to FF and really enjoying it. Faster, Lighter, no freezing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, these are really irritating issues… I understand that you switched back to FF. Fortunately I haven’t had any issues like these with Chrome. But I use Chrome in a very basic way, I usually have only 2-3 tabs open at the same time, and I don’t use extensions (except my own ones). Anyway, have you also tried removing the extensions? They can cause weird things…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great read Jozsef.

    Recently the high RAM usage for Chrome has really turned me off it, but to be fair in Task Manager Firefox isn;t far behind.

    I like Firefox but its add-on compatibility for me has been poor.

    Take Rescue Time, it’s great on Chrome, but cannot recognise Firefox. When you’re doing technical stuff or working those little things drive you nuts.

    I even use Chrome on Linux as well as it’s just easier and more convenient!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mike, glad you like it!
      I have never had any problem with Chrome, either. I use Chrome as my main browser in my everyday life and also in my web development work. Then I test the other browsers, too. And Firefox has been really a big pain from dev point of view…


  3. Nice post!

    Actually I like both Chrome, and Firefox. I find difficult to warm to IE, though I admit it has improved a lot in the last years.

    Opera needs more love: it has been around forever, it is innovative, has great care for detail, and all in all it is a very pleasant to use browser, with tons of interesting features; yet it is always at the bottom when it comes to market share. A very underrated browser IMHO.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, glad you like it!
      Firefox and IE keep declining, the question is whether Opera can increase its market share in the future. I doubt that all the disappointed Firefox and IE users switch or will switch to Chrome… but who knows. Anyway I may also give Opera a try and use it as my main everyday browser.


  4. I once made a small web tool, which was primarily an array of colour pickers, and it ran perfectly in Opera 12 (the last Opera based on the Presto Engine), but it would drag Firefox to its knees in seconds. Now I have the same sort of issue with my WebGL based game for Linux, where it runs great in Google Chrome, but poorly in Firefox. Though it does run great on the same version of FF in Windows. All that said, I still happily use Firefox for my browser on Linux and Android. It has lots of great features and has been problem free for my every day needs. Chrome is alright too, but I mainly use it as a game runtime and on my Chromebook. I miss Opera 12 (both the new Opera and Vivaldi suck by comparison on so many levels…).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice post. Chrome is my go to browser really. It does eat up resources though so when I am trying to save battery on my Macbook I tend to switch back to Safari.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Perhaps “In other words, what worked in the other browser flawlessly it didn’t work in Firefox.” should be “In other words, what worked in the other browser flawlessly, didn’t work in Firefox.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice post!

    I personally switch between Opera and Firefox for my daily usage. I personally them both. The thing I like about as Opera especially is the built in free VPN straight out of the box. Although it probably isn’t the best, it’s adequate for my day to day privacy concerns. It also has a built in battery saver, which does help a tiny bit, but doesn’t do much for my portable machine (which is a Windows gaming laptop). As with most battery saver tools, your mileage may vary of course.

    Echoing what ARJ said, I have Chrome installed for testing only. I only have concerns about its high RAM usage if I have virtual machines running. But that is a very niche situation. I also have Edge on hand. Edge is alright, and much better than IE ever was, but in order to sync my favourites etc., I’d have to sign in to Windows entirely. I prefer only having syncing accounts on a select view programs.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Internet Explorer was always my browser of choice, but Edge is a different story. It has not had a chance at being a favourite for me. No way to import bookmarks like in IE was a big bug bear for me. Overall I just don’t like how it works. So I have been a committed Chrome user for a number of years. I did try other browsers like Firefox (which was ok) and Safari for Windows (works better in the iOS environment), but I find Chrome works the best for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I hope that the work the FF developers are doing towards improving the web-engine makes things less difficult than they are at the moment. It will be a real shame to see the browser going away since it once revolutionized the world of Internet browsing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Late to the party, but I thought I might chime in here. Opera doesn’t keep it’s cache in check. With Firefox, the background cache operation stays at about twice the RAM size of the actual program. With Opera, it progressively grows. I noticed this when listening to music on Pandora. After a couple hours, normal operation started to slow to a crawl. If Opera is a cover for Chrome, then Chrome has the same issues. Also, Opera is really irritating because it hides bookmarks. What good is accessing a bookmark by URL if the point of bookmarking was because you knew you’d forget its URL?

    Since FF development has trickled down, I’ve switched to using a branch of FF called Palemoon. The dev has done a good job keeping it patched with the GOOD tech – like JS and CSS3 feature support – while ignoring the needless crap like UI changes. It runs awesome! Most extensions are supported except the really old ones, and, from what I recall, you don’t need a stupid “certificate” to install an extension.

    Liked by 1 person

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