Understanding Shifts in Firefox Market Share (Part 2)

Ken Kovash

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We wanted to revisit one of our previous discussions surrounding shifts in worldwide browser market share. In that previous analysis, we considered the universe of new internet users (or those who switched browsers) in 2007, and then asked the question, “who grabbed which slice of the pie?” (in other words, how have the successes of Firefox and other browsers/versions stacked up against one another?). The short answer was that Firefox grabbed the majority of the pie and Opera Mini also enjoyed considerable success.

Revisiting this discussion, we wanted to turn to a different provider of market share data – WebSideStory – to see if the story is similar. The previous study utilized data from Net Applications, where you can drill down into market share trending data for about forty different browser versions. Though not nearly as granular as the Net Applications’ data, the data set from WSS should tell us if our original story was directionally correct.

The pie chart below is derived from the WSS data set. Here are a few things to note:

  • WSS’s sample includes approximately 100 million daily unique visitors (across their clients’ sites)
  • WSS’s data set breaks down market share data for three browser brands: IE, Firefox and Other (unfortunately, we can’t dive down into browser versions as we could with our previous data set). Our best guess is that “Other” consists almost entirely of Opera and Safari.
  • Given that the WSS data requires a subscription, we’ll share our analysis based on their raw numbers, rather than the raw numbers themselves
  • The chart below compares an average of Jan-Feb numbers to Nov-Dec numbers. A more thorough explanation of our methodology was described here.

What does this mean for Mozilla?

In short, trending (relative to the competition) is the name of the game. Instead of thinking about browser brand X declining from 75% to 70% or browser brand Y increasing its share from 5% to 10%, it’s important to keep the broader browser landscape in perspective. These assigned percentages are not always accurate and the scale of macro level shifts is generally out of anyone’s hands. What each brand does have control over is their own growth relative to the other players.

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