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What’s the news? As of August 2023, the number of active Firefox users around the world has dropped to 176 million users. A far cry from the end of 2018 when it had 244 million active users.

This means that the Firefox browser has roughly lost 70 million active users in the last five years.

firefox 5
Number of active Firefox users in the last five years.

All of these statistics are taken from the Firefox Public Data Report, which is the official source provided by Mozilla for reporting various userbase data.

Why it matters: Firefox is the only open source browser in the market that uses its own rendering engine, called Gecko, and does not build upon Google’s Chromium browser and its engine.

This is important, because it means that Firefox is the only player outside Google’s reach and its monopoly.

Other browsers like Brave, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi… etc. are all based on Chromium, effectively making them vulnerable to whatever decisions are taken by Google to enhance its product’s position on the web.

But since Firefox is independent of Google, a free and an open source alternative remains the only uncaged voice on the web.

However, if users are switching from Firefox to other web browsers, then this could cause web developers to ignore the web browser in favor of the +85% userbase browser engine that is controlled by Google, and not optimize their websites to render properly in Firefox, which could cause an even further acceleration in user migration. Effectively strengthening Google’s grasp on the web.

Further context: As of August 2023, Firefox controls only ~6% of the browser marketshare according to StatCounter:

firefox 7

But in August 2022, the browser had a marketshare of 7.39%, meaning that indeed it has lost 20% of its userbase just in one year.

This is a huge drop in the number of users in a very short period.

It could probably mean that users are ditching Firefox for other web browsers en masse; for reasons like compatibility and speed.

Discussion: What would be the future of the fox in the browser wars? And what are the steps that need to be taken by Mozilla in order to fix this problem?

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