Thursday, July 03, 2008

Firefox: The public face of open source?

It is now official. The much publicised Download Day has set a new Guinness World Record for the single-most downloaded file in a single day with 8,002,530 unique and complete downloads during the day, an impressive figure whichever way you look at it. Firefox 3 has now been downloaded more than 28 million times, and it is climbing fast in the charts. Firefox now commands 19% of the browser market, and it should pass the 20% mark soon. Firefox 3 alone has reached the 5% market-share mark, a similarly astounding achievement considering that it was officially launched less than two weeks ago. The "Spread Firefox" campaign has been an extremely successful viral exercise, with nifty little gimmicks like giving every person who downloaded the software a personalised certificate, or encouraging blogs and fora to spread the news.

This success is good news for open source in general. As a person who presents on open source licensing issues at different venues, one of the things that always strike me is the problem explaining open source to members of the public outside of the techno-elites. There is a vast majority of everyday users who do not care one bit about software development. However, I have been noticing that few names and brands are recognisable to the mainstream. Apache used to be the best example offered, but outside of IT rooms, nobody knows about web server software. One used to offer Google as another large corporate user of open source, but again, explaining large Linux server farms is not something that interests main users.

Like it or not, the new face of open source is Firefox. It is hip, it is functional, it is free, and it is fast. It is scalable, customisable and works much better than IE7. It is time then for the open source community to make their support of Firefox a much more important part of public engagement.

By the way, 52% of TechnoLlama readers use Firefox. Nice.


John H said...

Only 36% of visitors to my blog use Firefox. But that contrasts with only 19% of visitors to the church website which I administer.

That tends to confirm my belief that FF usage is higher among more intensive users of the internet. Those who visit blogs are more likely to be "power users" as far as the web is concerned, and they are the ones who are more likely to use FF.

Casual users are more likely just to use the default application, i.e. IE.

Anonymous said...

And now Firefox 3.0.1 has landed.The Mozilla team has annonced that the final version of Firefox 3.1 will come out at the end of this year. Can't wait...

Andres Guadamuz said...

What I really can't wait for is Thunderbird 3.0.