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article imageCo-founder Blake Ross: Firefox team 'too passive'

By Aaron Jefferson     May 19, 2010 in Technology
For many Web users, Mozilla's Firefox is the browser of choice, a reliable and quality alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE). Now one its co-founders is saying Mozilla is too "timid and passive."
A debate between Firefox co-founder Blake Ross and outgoing Mozilla CEO John Lilly took place recently based upon the simple question, “Will Firefox have double-digit market share in 3 to 5 years?
Ross had this to say, “I'm pretty skeptical. I think the Mozilla Organization has gradually reverted back to its old ways of being too timid, passive and consensus-driven to release breakthrough products quickly.”
Firefox co-founder Blake Ross believes Firefox is suffering the same effects that originally allowed Firefox to gain a large percentage of market share. Originally released in 2004, a time when IE controlled 90 percent of the market, Firefox took advantage of IE lack on innovation and overall quality to secure a healthy portion of the market. Firefox's share now stands at 25 percent while IE had dwindled down to 60 percent.
Ross' point rang true to many long time Firefox users many citing performance issues as their reason for switching. Faced with competition from fast, open alternatives such as Opera, Safari, and Chrome, Firefox is quickly finding its growth rate slowing. A resurgent Internet Explorer could dampen Firefox and Chrome's growth rates as the two have been on the receiving end of Internet Explorer's loss.
Outgoing Mozilla CEO John Lilly believes Firefox will continue its growth pattern in coming years, "I’m hardly an unbiased observer, but am confident that it will. Product is getting better all the time, and especially with 4.0 approaching in the fall. We’ve got 400M users and are growing that number. And we have a huge community of committed people around the world working on making it better. It’s more competitive than ever, but I feel pretty good about our chances, not only on the desktop, but also on Android, which is already looking good."
Lilly's statements highlights the importance of mobile browsing, a developing market currently dominated by built in browsers. Getting users to switch from the built in browser may prove difficult, the iPhone's Safari browser and Android built-in browser are both well supported and feature rich. Mozilla has announced they are developing an Android version of Firefox, but no release date has been announced.
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