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article imageOp-Ed: New Firefox 57 to challenge leading browser Chrome

By Ken Hanly     Aug 6, 2017 in Internet
Mountain View - Mozilla Firefox or just Firefox was at one time the first choice of browser users back in December of 2009, challenging the dominance of Microsoft's venerable Internet Explorer.
Firefox's usage peaked at the end of 2009 with 32 percent of the browser market. It has now declined as its competitor Chrome kept rising and now dominates the market. Depending on who is doing the measuring, Firefox now has between 5.65 percent and 14 percent of worldwide usage as a desktop browser. Firefox runs not only on Windows but on Mac OS and Linux distributions as well.
Although Firefox was created as "Phoenix" by the Mozilla community it was first released as "Firefox" in November of 2004. Firefox is thought of as the spiritual successor of Netscape Navigator as the Mozilla community was created by Netscape in 1998 before they were taken over by AOL. In certain areas Firefox is still dominant. In Cuba it has 85.93 percent of the market. In Eritrea it has 79.3 percent of the market. Even in Germany it still enjoys 37.01 percent of the market.
Yet Firefox has fallen far behind as Chrome has long dominated with about 54 percent of the market now especially if one includes not just computers but phones and tablets. According to StatCounter Firefox has a mere 6 percent of the market. It obviously is not penetrating into the mobile field successfully.
Mozilla is now developing Firefox 57 a massive overhaul of the browser. As a cnet article describes the opening of a meeting revealing the new browser the traditional logo is gone: Gone was the blazing-orange fox snuggling a blue globe, the image that’s represented Mozilla’s scrappy browser since 2003. Instead, Firefox Senior Vice President Mark Mayo opened the event with a drawing of a fox in menacing mecha armor, named Mark 57 — the same way ever-improving Iron Man suits are named.
The new overhaul is due on November 14th ready for battle it is claimed. Mozilla hopes the new version will lure back those Firefox users who switched to Chrome since it came out in 2008. Of course, Microsoft would like to lure some Chrome users back to its new Edge browser. There are even annoying pop-up ads on Windows 10 touting its speed as compared to Chrome.
CEO of Mozilla Chris Beard claimed: “It’s going to add up to be a big bang. We’re going to win back a lot of people.” Yet Firefox 57 will have an uphill battle as Mozilla itself lost its co-founder, technical leader, and former CEO Brendan Eich who left Mozilla after a fight over gay marriage. Eich donated to a California organization opposed to gay marriage. Eich has a new browser Brave. The founder of Opera, also launched a new browser Vivaldi after leaving Opera when it changed hands.
Firefox's innovations and popularity have helped keep other browsers competitive. Mitchell Baker Mozilla's executive chair-woman and co-founder said: “There are people who make hardware, people who make software, people who make websites. They want to give you an experience that you like enough to pay for and to keep coming back, but they’re about running their business. They represent themselves. We like the browser because we can represent you.”
While a non-profit organization Mozilla is considering a possible membership plan that would make money. It is also counting on software beyond the browser, and financial growth. Mozilla wants a future where everyone is not dependent on Apples' app store, Google's search results, Facebook's news feed, and Amazon's Prime video streaming. Personally, I only use one of those four.
Some of the technical advances came through a special project called Quantum: One part, Stylo, accelerates formatting operations. Quantum Flow squashes dozens of small slowdown bugs. Quantum Compositor speeds website display. And Firefox 57 also will lay the groundwork for WebRender, which uses a computing device’s graphics chip to draw webpages on the screen faster.
Developers of Firefox 57 had speed as their top priority. In a browser test called Speedometer, Firefox performance has already jumped significantly apparently significantly enough to stem the steady stream of defections from Firefox to other browsers. The new browser will have a different look as well. Nick Nguyen, vice president of Firefox product said: “If Quantum is how we make Firefox faster, Photon is how users will know about it... a sleek and modern user experience, buttery-smooth animations and crisp interface elements for all resolutions.”
Some are skeptical about Mozilla's ability to take on Chrome. At the job recruiting service Glassdoor only 42 percent would recommend employment at Mozilla to their friends. The approval rating for CEO Beard who has been there for 3 years is just 28 percent. Even Trump fares better. However, Beard claims that Firefox is stable and poised for growth.
Mozilla has been active on such issues as net neutrality which it promotes and lobbies for. It has a team of 8 people who spend all their time lobbying politicians. Mozilla mounted a petition of more than 42,000 signatures defending net neutrality. Mozilla is also lobbying against government efforts to weaken privacy-protection encryption. It even spoke out against Trump's immigration ban efforts.
While the new Firefox is aimed at challenging Chrome there are many other competitors who may also come up with their own challenges to the leader. Microsoft is vigorously promoting Edge. Safari is still the browser of choice for Mac users. Opera has been around for ages and though its usage at present is only a small percentage it is under new management and has had some good reviews as has the new Vivaldi. As the appended video shows, the Firefox 57 is a bit behind Chrome 57 already, at least it is released later.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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