Supporters of the latest Internet browser, FireFox 1.0, are pulling out all the stops, including plans to buy a full-page ad in the New York Times. However, at least one skeptic questions whether it will be enough to steal market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
More than five million
copies of the fledgling browser have been downloaded in more than a month, according to the Mozilla Foundation, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company that’s built the open-source product based on Netscape technology.
Though it may be premature to describe the release as the start of the next Internet browser war, Mozilla anticipates taking 10 per cent of Microsoft Corp.’s user base.
“”I’m quite optimistic”” about Mozilla’s user predictions, said Steven Garrity, creative director at Silverorange, a Web developer in Charlottetown, P.E.I. “”I think they can do better than that,”” he said, although he was unwilling to make an actual forecast.
Yet, Garrity said, there’s more to the 10 per cent target than meets the eye.
“”I think since those people would have had to go and download FireFox themselves — since Internet Explorer is sort of already there by default — you’ve automatically got that group of people who are probably more engaged online, spending more time online, more aware of how to use the Internet, and therefore probably more likely to, say, spend money online.””
In contrast, a Fortune 500 firm with IE on its 5,000 computers may have employees using their PC at work only a few times a day, explained Garrity.
Garrity said the browser would be a good fit for “”people who are setting the agenda,”” such as Web-site builders or fans of e-commerce.
That said, Mozilla is eager to reach out to the corporate world. Any business serious about developing Web apps over the next few years will have to “”pay significant attention to Firefox”” because of the 10 per cent user target, he said.
Mozilla hopes to entice home users of Windows who are running into problems with spyware and pop-ads while browsing the Web. Firefox is touted to be almost immune to both.
After garnering a great deal of bad press about its security flaws, he said Microsoft decreed earlier this year it would audit its apps and OS.
Despite FireFox’s improved features and the hopefulness of advocates of the browser, some obervers lack Mozilla’s confidence. “”The average person out there is just delusional when it comes to change,”” argued Internet trends expert Jim Carroll of Toronto. “”They don’t know to deal with moving up to virus scanners or new e-mail tools.””
Likewise, corporations are “”so far into the Microsoft thing”” that they will be unlikely to gravitate to FireFox, which will probably find more ardent users within the Linux community or among other “”techie geeks,”” he said.