Firefox, Chrome and the perception of value

It doesn’t happen that much in technology, but some articles become more real and truthful as time goes by. It’s certainly the case in ‘Choose Firefox Now, Or Later You Won’t Get A Choice‘, where the author urges the user to use Mozilla’s browser:

So if you want an Internet — which means, in many ways, a world — that isn’t controlled by Google, you must stop using Chrome now and encourage others to do the same. If you don’t, and Google wins, then in years to come you’ll wish you had a choice and have only yourself to blame for spurning it now.

The article is being discussed at Hacker News, where several readers make good points about what are the reasons Chrome and Firefox are currently where they are. One of them made an interesting question: “What did cause you to switch?

When Chrome was launched Firefox was easily the best browser around. That ended with Chrome, which was faster, leaner and had features such as sandboxing that for example allowed the browser to keep running even if one of the tabs stopped working. The extension catalog was not that great at the beginning, but that changed quickly too. 

Years after that, the situation is quite different. Chrome and Firefox are indeed great browsers, and I wouldn’t say one is far better than the other. When I started using Chrome -I’m writing this post on this browser- I did it for the advantages it had, and I didn’t consider sacrificing my privacy as a big danger back in the day. 

That consideration is no longer true, but the problem is, even considering the respect to privacy that Firefox provides to the user, that’s not a perceived value.

It’s nothing you actually feel when you’re browsing. 

That’s the problem, I’d say. Firefox could be interesting for many people if there was some feature specially beneficial to them. Opera has been trying to walk this path with its adblocking capabilities, the power efficiency enhancements and the addition of a VPN proxy. Even with those interesting features, the market share hasn’t changed that much. And if it doesn’t for Opera, I wonder how Firefox can improve its market share with a discourse that again (most) people don’t usually get. 

That’s sad, and the worst part of it: I’m not helping to solve the situation either. I know I should use Firefox. It simply doesn’t feel like the best browser for me anymore. 

Microsoft Edge efficiency isn’t (that) important: usability and options are

Chart showing average power consumption per browser (lower is better) based on aggregated telemetry. Edge on average consumed 465.24 milliwatts; Firefox, 493.5; Chrome, 719.72.

Microsoft has published a recent study about its browser capabilities and its power efficiency. The numbers don’t lie: if you want to maximize your battery life, you should use Microsoft Edge and forget Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

The results speak for themselves: Microsoft Edge outlasts the rest, delivering 17%-70% more battery life than the competition.

This is for sure interesting and important, but not so important to change user habits and convince him to switch to a new browser that basically wants you to perform the same tasks you do on your favorite browser in other way.

Usability and options are the key here.

I don’t use Edge because I don’t care about its ink option to mark pages -especially (and not too much) useful on tablets and convertibles- or its reading mode. I care about extensions and having the freedom to customize my browser as I want. I want to do the things I do in other browsers the exact same way I do them there, and I want things like my passwords, bookmarks and my history saved them.

Freeze frame from a video rundown test comparing streaming battery life on four browsers. Click to play.

I remember Firefox giving the option to import Chrome bookmarks a few versions ago: that was a dealbreaker to switch. Edge doesn’t take this into account, and I think they should focus on trying to convince users to switch offering them a better browser that they will find familiar.

Otherwise Edge is condemned.

 

Opera and the new generation of browsers

Most people doesn’t have the technical prowess to use a VPN or an ad-blocker. Many don’t take care of their privacy, but a new generation of browsers can do for them.

First we had the Incognito mode on browsers, and it was widely accepted. Then we started to see ad-blockers integrated on several browsers (Safari on iOS and Brave on Android).

Now we’re seeing a browser with a free, integrated VPN, something that again solves a problem most people wouldn’t solve by themselves.

This is the way that tiny but important revolutions happen to be. Creators make them seamless, almost invisible. And that’s the reason most people accept them: they don’t impose a change. They suggest it.

We are witnessing the birth of the new generation of browsers. A generation that will help us to protect a privacy we weren’t capable of protecting by ourselves.

Saving Mozilla

We often forget what Mozilla has made for us. Internet wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for that group of developers that took Netscape web browser and transformed it into an Open Source project called Mozilla at first and then Firefox.

That project was one milestone of a road that was always synonym of freedom and openness (would I dare to say… ‘unshutness‘?). Since that moment, Mozilla has stayed independent and has fought against much bigger companies with much deeper pockets.

StatCounter-browser-ww-monthly-200807-201511

It has suffered the consequences, of course. Firefox lost part of its market share due to the popularity (and good features) of Chrome, and other projects suffered from the Open Source curse: it doesn’t matter if it’s better, they’re probably “only suited for geeks”.

The Firefox web browser is just the best example of what defines Mozilla: a defense of open standards for an open web. There are lots of other additional efforts to defend that idea. Lots of them.

So when you find arguments like the ones Psy-Q’s Braindump has showed on his excellent post, you can’t help thinking about what Mozilla has made for us. BTW, this discussion on Hacker News explains it well: the donations are for The Mozilla Foundation (manifesto) which “relies entirely on donations”. Mozilla Corp -the one behind Firefox development- “makes money through corporate deals (e.g. Google and Yahoo! search commissions)”

And that is worth any donation. I’ve just donated $10 dollar.

Your move.

Image | keerochee