Earlier today at Google I/O, the company announced that its web browser, Chrome, was now 70 million users strong. That’s a big number, and up more than 100% in the past year. But wait a second, let’s get some perspective. Enter, Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler.
As he points out on his blog this evening, while Chrome may be at 70 million active users, Firefox is at nearly 370 million active users. And while Chrome grew by 40 million users in the past year, Firefox gained over 100 million new users in the same span — yes, more users than Chrome has total. He also made a nice chart to underscore his point.
This also ties into the news from yesterday that Firefox co-founder Blake Ross thinks Firefox may be headed towards a massive decline over the next 3 to 5 years. His reasoning behind this is that Mozilla is too timid and beauracratic in handling the browser. Meanwhile, upstarts like Chrome are surging quickly. As Dotzler’s graph shows, Firefox is also still surging quite quickly itself.
The problem for Firefox is that pretty much all of those users are coming from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. That browser just dipped below 60% market share for the first time, but Microsoft seems committed to improving it with the IE9 release and beyond. Even if it’s still not perfect, it’s likely that the rate at which Firefox will be able to pull users from Internet Explorer will decrease. Firefox doesn’t appear to be pulling users from the other browsers (as they’re not declining), so their only other hope would be to get new people to start using the web (with Firefox, of course).
One big question over the next few years will be if Chrome is able to pull users from Firefox and IE faster than Firefox can pull new users from IE alone? The other big question will be how quickly the browsers on mobile platforms (including tablets) grow? As we’ve seen first-hand, the growth is already happening fast. Others are seeing it too.
Something else interesting in Dotzler’s graph: apparently, 10 million or so active Firefox users just stop using the browser during the holidays. Dotzler says this is normal given the time of year, but Chrome has no such dip.