Mozilla Usage Flat in July Following June Surge

After a growth surge that contributed to the decline in market share ofMicrosoft Internet Explorer (IE) for the first time in six years, usageof the Mozilla browser flattened out during much of this month.

“The general trend over the last two weeks, at least, seems to havemostly flattened out,” Geoff Johnston, an analyst with WebSideStory, aSan Diego-based Web metrics company, told LinuxInsider.

After experiencing double-digit growth in June that allowed it tocapture 4.59 percent of the browser market by July 9, growth slowed tounder 2 percent by July 23, when it had 4.67 percent of the market, Johnston said.

Weekend Usage Up

He added that weekend usage numbers for the browser are significantlyhigher than the overall numbers.

“Traditionally, Mozilla/Netscape has had higher weekend numbers — about athird of point increase,” he said. “Now, though, it’s about three-quarters of a point.”

“It looks like its weekend usage — which usually means users haven’t gotthe OK to use it at work yet so they’re using it at home — is happeningat a faster pace now,” he reasoned.

Tsunami of Interest

“The uptake in the home market seems to be much faster than the uptake in the work market,” Johnston observed.

Mozilla and its companion product, Firefox, experienced a tsunami ofinterest between June 14 and July 14, according to the MozillaFoundation, a nonprofit group responsible for developing and managingthe open-source browsers. During that time, some 5.5 million downloadsof Mozilla products occurred.

Much of that interest was fueled by recommendations by security experts,including the Department of Homeland Security, that users start lookingfor a more secure browser than IE.

IE Security Woes

“There are respected journalists and security experts who are saying,’Don’t use IE. Use Firefox instead,'” Russell Nelson, vice president ofthe Open Source Initiative, told LinuxInsider. “They’re not hintingaround. They’re coming out and saying exactly that,” he said.

Users concerned about IE security can breathe easier by shutting offJavaScript within the browser, Johannes Ullrich, CTO of theSans Institute, an information security training and certificationcompany based in Bethesda, Maryland, recommended.

“But if you disable JavaScript, be sure that you put in an exception forWindows Update, otherwise it won’t work,” he told LinuxInsider from hisoffice in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Surprised by Reception

The reception Mozilla products received in the market surprised itsdevelopers a bit.

“We knew the products were worthy of that kind of reception, but wedidn’t actually know we would get it,” Foundation President MitchellBaker told LinuxInsider.

“We are really pleased that people have looked up and realized how goodthe products are,” she said.

The Try-It Challenge

“In our world,” she continued, “there’s a challenge to building reallygreat products, but there’s also a challenge getting people to be awareof them and look at them and try them.”

One user who has looked and tried Mozilla is Ken Godskind, vicepresident of marketing for AlertSite, a Web site monitoring firm basedin Boca Raton, Florida. He noted that many people in his organizationhave started using Mozilla. “We’re a bunch of old-systems guys who areused to working in open systems,” he told LinuxInsider. “So we have asoft spot for the thing that quietly opposes the status quo.”

He cited an informal survey he conducted of his coworkers aboutMozilla. Security was one of their major concerns, he said.

Multiple Platforms

“Another reason they like Mozilla is because they often have to work onmore than one platform, he noted. “Internet Explorer works on theWindows desktop, but if you’re going to switch to Linux or Unix, you’regoing to need an alternative browser,” he explained.

Although Mozilla is popular in his shop, IE remains on everyone’smachine, he added. “There are some Web sites whose functionality doesnot work with non-Internet Explorer browsers,” he said. “My phonecompany, BellSouth, for instance, states at its Web site that somefunctionality at its Web site requires Internet Explorer.”

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