This year, Mozilla has been on an aggressive streak in its bid to make Firefox more than a basic browser: that’s included some big steps in social integration, transforming its browser into more of a platform for web interaction. But perhaps one of the company’s most significant moves has been its moves into mobile.
Today the company released some numbers on how Firefox has progressed over the year, and one stat in particular stood out to me that points to why mobile is a target for them: 19% of Firefox for Android users have adopted Mozilla’s “Do Not Track” option, while only 8.6% have adopted it on desktop.
It’s a sign of how mobile may not be where most of Mozilla’s traffic is today, but for those who are using Firefox on wireless devices, they might turn out to be the more engaged audience.
“Firefox OS, 2013 will be the year when the world can see and hold and try a real device powered only by the power of the Web and, for many, it will be the first smartphone they’ve ever been able to afford,” writes Jonathan Nightingale, VP of Firefox engineering, in the blog post accompanying the stats. “We will need to mobilize the masses.”
That mobile effort has passed some other milestones this year. They included a release of Firefox for Android that extended the browser to work on some 15 million ARMv6 devices (typically lower end handsets), in addition to the hundreds of millions of devices that already supported the browser.
Mozilla also have as an early look of how it will implement Firefox Marketplace, an app store for mobile web apps. The company last month participated in a $25 million strategic investment in Everything.me, a service that lets you search for content across native and mobile web apps. That investment was led by Telefonica, one of Mozilla’s partners in its Firefox OS effort. Before launch, Firefox OS has already released 30 different APIs.
This doesn’t mean that Mozilla has not kept its eye on its bigger desktop browser service. Although Chrome has stolen a march in the desktop browser market in the last year, Firefox is still in a strong third position, with its browser share at 22.7% as of November, according to Statcounter.
With those market shares just as likely to shift again the next year as in the last, the ball is in Mozilla’s court to increase the functionality and performance of the browser now to continue to attract people to it. In addition to now having social API and Facebook integration — Mozilla’s take on being social but with a layer of user control and security that you don’t get through Facebook’s basic open graph services — the company notes that it made 17,156 other enhancements (which we won’t list here).
Users are demanding more customizable ways of using their browsers, too: this year it passed 3 billion downloads of its Add-ons, Firefox’s equivalent of Chrome extensions. It is also now available in 89 languages.