Shockingly, a Firefox is not a fox, but a Red panda.

From a peak of 34% market share around 2010, the Firefox Browser has dropped to less than 4% on desktop and 0.5% on mobile. Over the last 12 years Firefox lost 500 million users.

On the internet 3% is 362 million users, but still. A number of major user interface overhauls alienated users. Firefox was known for speed, but did not see any performance improvements for many years. Google's Chrome browser was outperforming Firefox in user experience, performance, and features.

Speed is back

Now things are happening in terms of speed, security and features for Firefox.

A graph showing the Speedometer benchmark comparing Firefox, Chromium and Chrome. The graph is inverted, with higher scores appearing lower in the graph. Higher scores are better, therefore appearing lower in the graph is better. The top of the graph shows Chromium at around the 120 mark, with a slight change for the worse towards the end of June at around 110. The middle of the graph shows Firefox, rapidly closing in on Chrome, moving from ~150 to ~170, with it fully converging with the Chrome score around July 6th 2023. The bottom fo the graph shows Chrome fairly steady between ~165 and ~170.
From Mozilla Blog

Make sure you have the latest version of Firefox

[wait...] You can download the latest Firefox here

Windows and Mac users get automatic updates, for Linux users the latest updates are in Flatpack and Snap channel Here's how to switch to Firefox as Snap - your current profile will be imported with plugins, bookmarks, and history..

  sudo apt install snapd
  sudo snap install core
  sudo snap install firefox
  #remove the Firefox version installed with your distribution
  sudo apt remove firefox-esr
  #launch Firefox from Snap
  snap run firefox

This has always been Firefox core. As an Open Source browser it does not have any incentives to sell or share user data like Microsoft's Edge or Google's Chrome.

The Default privacy setting blocks 3rd party cookies by putting cookies in a Cookie Jar, blocks Fingerprinters, crypto-miners, and disable Social Media trackers.

Total Cookie Protection works by creating a separate “cookie jar” for each website you visit. Instead of allowing trackers to link up your behavior on multiple sites, they just get to see behavior on individual sites.

Enhanced Tracking Protection can be disabled for a specific site if it breaks functionality.

Screenshot: Enhanced Tracking Protection for on Firefox
Enhanced Tracking Protection for on Firefox

Clutter-free pages in reading mode

Reading mode is really good. The font size, content width, line spacing, and background, can be adjusted for a great reading experience. Activate with ctrl-alt-R or hit the icon in address bar.

Firefox reading mode

The Mozilla account

After logging in on your Mozilla Account, bookmarks, history and tabs will be synced to all your browsers. Browser tabs can be sent to another browser on a different computer or phone.

Screenshot - Send Tab to Device
Firefox Send Tab to Device

How can Firefox be free?

Open Source projects have a challenge with generating revenue without exploiting user data. Here's how the Mozilla Corporation, the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, makes money while protecting the integrity of users:

  • Contributions: The foundation receives donations and contributions from individuals, foundations, and organizations that support its mission of an open web.
  • Royalties: The Mozilla Corporation generates revenue through royalties earned through search engine partnerships, such as its deal with Google. In 2021, Mozilla Corporation generated $441 million in royalties, which represented almost 89% of its income.
  • Subscription revenues: Mozilla earns income from subscription-based services, such as Pocket.
  • Advertising and sponsored content: Mozilla generates revenue through advertising and sponsored content on its websites and products.
  • Product offerings: Mozilla VPN, Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) Plus, and Firefox Relay Premium. In 2021, revenue from products grew by 150% and accounted for 14% of the organization's total revenue.

The Firefox browser seems to be back in business - on both mobile and desktop. Mozilla Foundation made a video to celebrate..

I've written this blog post with data from Perplexity AI - ethical AI with sources and references. Cover image by NeuroFlash AI