Who Are Our Firefox 4 Beta users?

As an intern here at Mozilla, I’ve learned that one of the core goals of the organization is to help build a better Internet by creating great software like the Firefox browser.  But like many other endeavors, one of the first steps to developing a browser, or software in general, is to know the end-users.

Consequently, we were excited to examine responses to the Firefox 4 Beta Background Survey. This short survey was pushed to all Beta users through the Feedback add-on and asked a few basic browsing behavior and demographic questions. In all, over 30,000 people, or roughly 7% of the entire Beta user-base, were kind enough to submit their responses.  Analyzing these submissions will not only help us understand the current Beta users, but also reveal the missing user groups we need to acquire to make the Beta sample more representative of the larger, general Firefox population.

So what did we find out? Who are our Firefox 4 Beta users?  Here are our main highlights:

1) The personal computer has been around longer than 75% of our Beta users

Although not surprising, our Beta population is concentrated among the lower age groups – over 75% of the Beta population is younger than 35 years old!  Even though we are skewed towards younger users, the good news is that there was a moderate increase in the participation of older users compared to our previous Test Pilot only sample.

2) Where are our Female Users? 96% of our Beta Population is male!

Evidently, our Beta Population is overwhelmingly skewed in terms of gender as 96% of users submitting feedback were male.

3) Early adopters are highly technical and spend multiple hours on the Internet a day

Due to the nature of betas, we expected the early adopters to be highly technical and spend a significant amount of time online.  Indeed, 69% of our Beta users are on the Web for over 4 hours a day, and 71% of gave themselves an advanced technical rating.

4) Entertainment, Communication and Socializing Drive Web Usage.

One of the most interesting aspects of this demographics survey was the potential to gain insights into the online interests of our Beta users.  We were particularly interested in identifying the main reasons why they use the web, as well as their most frequent visited websites. In particular, we found Beta users have three main reasons or using the web: Entertainment, Communication and Socializing.  We also noticed how these drivers were reflected in the most frequently visited websites as the top sites included News, Webmail, Social Networking, and Video content sites.

So what does all this survey information show? Overall, it clearly indicates that our Beta sample is far from representative of the general Firefox population. And in order to achieve more representative feedback, we need to increase the female, older and less technical user bases; we will definitely coordinate our Marketing, Metrics, and Community efforts to reach out to these users.

Maybe you existing Beta users can do some communicating and socializing to help us out! Tell your friends to download Firefox 4 Beta and help test the future of the Web!  Also, expect a follow-up blog post in the future as the makeup of the Beta sample evolves and (hopefully) becomes more representative.

7 responses

  1. Majken “Lucy” Connor wrote on :

    Well it seems if you need more older, female, non-technical users you shouldn’t be telling people to invite their friends, but their moms, grandmothers and aunts. 😉

  2. cuz84d wrote on :

    Maybe also we should have links to spreadfirefox.com on the beta page or facebook/twitter sharing widgets on the page..

  3. Alfred Kayser wrote on :

    The last question was not broad enough.
    For me, the biggest reasons to use the web are work-related:
    Design & development of online applications (teamspaces, project admin).
    This is both intranet as internet, as we notice that more and more intranet applications get internet access.

  4. Donnie Berkholz wrote on :

    I didn’t see any link to the data supporting your assertion that the beta userbase is unlike the broader Firefox userbase, although it’s clearly unlike the population at large. However, you should be aware of the common misperception of people saying they are more expert than they trluy are.

    Do you have evidence for your statement on the difference between beta and general Firefox userbases?

  5. Levine wrote on :

    This is the “data.” As they said in the first paragraph, its the summarized results from the Survey.

  6. Zerofire wrote on :

    The problem with running feedback from Beta copies of Firefox is that the word Beta turns away people that are not adventurous or need stability. The typical Beta user is a Technical Young Male. If your not technical you usually stick to stable versions and as a result will only update if it pushed to them, a technical person tells them to update, or they hit check for update. You will also either ignore beta announcements or not know where to get the beta. Females usually need stability and will also not go off stable releases because they need to have their browser “just work”. Older people have a tendency of not even getting the browser installed themselves. Younger people install it for them usually in the technical field. If they are lucky they might manually update but pushing updates is mandatory to keep this group from using software as old as they are.

    Using data from a Beta will skew results further than just asking feedback from the general public.

  7. Scaune wrote on :

    If you want more older then 35 y.o. people and preferablly female to test FF4 beta, you should also add a link in download page.
    When i enter on http://www.mozilla.com, only a link to FF3.6 in romanian will appear.