Technology Firefox: rise and fall of the German browser king

Firefox: rise and fall of the German browser king


For Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, the year starts with bad news: Because the sales did not develop as hoped, they are now forced to lay off 70 employees, the management explains. A radical step for the Mozilla Corporation, which is part of the Mozilla Foundation and has reportedly had around a thousand employees worldwide in 2018.

“You will remember that in 2019 and 2020 we expected sales from new subscription offers that had nothing to do with the search field. However, these sales did not materialize,” said Mozilla boss Mitchell Baker in an internal Write that the US portal “Techcrunch” is available.

New developments could not ignite

In 2018, Mozilla earned most of the money searching. $ 542 million came from Google and other search engines with which Mozilla has partnerships. For comparison, the Pocket service, which Mozilla took over in February 2017 as a “strategic acquisition”, brought in just $ 3 million in revenue.

With new products, the company wanted to become more independent of the income from the built-in search. However, the market share of the browser has been steadily declining in recent years, at the same time none of the new developments could ignite. Neither the self-made password manager nor the file transfer service could even approach the popularity of the browser. The Firefox OS, which was launched in 2013 with many ambitions, was a total flop.

Mozilla is currently working on a VPN service that obscures the IP address and is intended to protect users from curious advertising trackers. It remains to be seen whether this service will bring about a change.

In general, Mozilla boss Baker underestimated how time-consuming it was to launch new products that could generate income. For the new year, therefore, one plans with lower sales.

The ups and downs of the browser

The history of the Firefox browser shows how close rise and fall are to each other. The beginning is in 1998: The Netscape Navigator finally loses the browser war against Internet Explorer, within a few years Microsoft increases its market share from under three to more than 95 percent. Nothing seems to be able to stop him.

The Internet company AOL, which had taken over Netscape, then put the program code of the overloaded and poorly performing Netscape browser online for everyone and called on programmers worldwide to optimize it. Thousands are involved in the Mozilla project.

The retreaded Firefox finally came onto the market in 2004. It is a huge success, it is downloaded more than 100 million times within a year. Each new version achieves new record numbers, in autumn 2010 it dominated the German Internet with almost 62 percent. From then on, it only goes downhill.

How Chrome passed Firefox

The Netscape Navigator is replaced by Internet Explorer, which in turn by Firefox – and finally by Google Chrome. Chrome conquered a large part of the computers within only two years, which is mainly due to the good performance and the fast update cycles.

In 2014, Chrome had the majority of the world firmly in hand – only the German-speaking area has long been a Firefox stronghold. It was only in autumn 2017 that both desktop browsers were on par in Germany, a year later Google’s lead was already ten percent.

Google now dominates the German market with almost 45 percent market share. If you add the mobile use to it, Google will even exceed the 50 percent threshold due to the high Android distribution. Firefox, however, is only the first choice on every fourth desktop computer. Apple’s Safari browser comes in third place with around eleven percent.

Sources: GS Statcounter, Techcrunch, Mozilla

Also read:

– Rise of Chrome: How Google conquered the Internet for the second time

– Browser in crisis: Firefox is dead, long live Firefox

– Microsoft wants to save its browser and takes a radical measure

– As fitness firm Strava accidentally revealed top-secret US military bases

– Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, so he wants to usher in the next era


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