bit-tech.net

Firefox has ‘at least’ 126m users

Firefox has ‘at least’ 126m users

Mozilla estimates that there are more than 126 million monthly Firefox users.

John Lilly, Mozilla’s Chief Operating Officer, has estimated that Firefox, the company’s popular open source web browser, is used by at least 126 million people around the world.

Firefox’s penetration into the market is a popular topic among technology enthusiasts, but most market share reports don’t paint a clear picture. Many of these reports are done by collecting statistics from a wide selection of sites, but Lilly points out that the results can be skewed depending on the types of sites being used for the data sample.

“The most basic issue is that there’s no way to really represent the complexity and the dynamism of the global Web — it’s just too big, with too many things changing too rapidly,” he explained.

With sites that are focused on early adopters and technology enthusiasts, like bit-tech for instance, Firefox’s market share will be higher than it is on publications that have a broader mass market appeal. Lilly was quick to ensure people didn’t understand the point he was making though.

“Don’t misunderstand: all of these studies are extremely useful and help understand what’s happening around the world,” he said. “I’m just asserting that it’s very important to understand the limits of particular studies and the assumptions that are baked in.”

Lilly arrived at this number by leveraging the data collected by the Firefox Application Update Service, whereby the browser sends an anonymous request to the update servers each day to check for updates.

By counting the total number of pingbacks, Mozilla is able to estimate how many instances of its browser are running on a given day. This is a number it refers as the Active Daily Users (ADU). Back in October 2006, there were around 23 million ADUs and in November this year, the number of ADUs peaked at almost 49 million – more than doubling in size in just over a year.

So how did Lilly get to 126 million from the 49 million peak ADUs? Well, his maths gets a little creative at this point, as he multiplied the ADU number by three.

Yeah, we told you it was a little creative... but he makes a fair assumption that not every Firefox user is using Firefox every day of the week and there’s also the fact that corporate firewalls and proxies could also be preventing large numbers of Firefox installs from communicating with the update servers.

That said, Lilly believes that the estimate is a conservative one, saying that “this is a conservative multiplier (we think it could be more like 3.5) that we’ve gotten to by doing some of our own experiments, piecing together data we’ve received from sites who have done their own calculations, and then really testing them against the best common sense top-down tests we can.”

With an estimated 125m monthly unique users, Firefox’s market share would represent just 10.5 percent of the total number of Internet users around the world (which is reported to be around 1.2 billion per month). This is appreciably less than where most reports suggest Firefox’s market share lies, which explains why Lilly believes that the estimate is on the conservative side.

Interesting stuff. Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

31 Comments

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Redbeaver 3rd December 2007, 14:47 Quote
heh... as much grudge as i have against micro$oft, i still use pre-dominantly IE... but i have both installed anyway and use both..... depending where im goin and the functionality of the site...

Firefox wont be able to beat IE. ever. but that may not be their goal anyway, so kudos to the Fox!



if they merge with Google tho............... :)
evanbraakensiek 3rd December 2007, 16:38 Quote
Been using Firefox for some time. The new version (beta of 3), visibly loads pages much faster and I like the way Mozilla behaves, so I use Thunderbird when I can as well. Got to show the support!
TheoGeo 3rd December 2007, 16:57 Quote
i bet google knows how many users firefox has.... google knows EVERYTHING


edit: just noticed, this is my first post since june
ChiperSoft 3rd December 2007, 17:48 Quote
I'm surprised they rely on website stats to get that value. Seems like the FF autoupdate system should be able to track it better.
Krikkit 3rd December 2007, 18:12 Quote
They take the auto-update stats into account as well - statistically speaking they've done a good job tbh, they take their own data, and data compiled by many different companies across a broad spectrum of the market share, then use a conservative assumption based on their own tests (and probably some of the data they already collected) to arrive at their total figure.

I'm glad to say I don't use IE anymore, not really because it sucks, but just because FF does things better for me, even against IE7.
Leitchy 3rd December 2007, 18:18 Quote
IE is the ruining of my life as a Media Developer!
Naberius 3rd December 2007, 19:10 Quote
Started using firefox back in 05 i think, never looked back since, so much more flexible than IE, and it performs better which is an added bonus. Bring on Firefox 3!
completemadness 3rd December 2007, 19:16 Quote
I agree with him a lot, its very hard to judge how many users a browser has

But his methodology is just as rubbish as any other

I don't know about you, but i probably have 4 computers with Firefox on, plus a couple of virtual machines (and I think a couple on portable apps too)
But I'm just 1 user, so maybe his estimate should be /2 - assuming each user has just 2 copies of firefox
DeX 3rd December 2007, 19:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by the article
Lilly was quick to ensure people didn’t understand the point he was making though.

That's nice. Most CEOs I know tend to be really long winded about it...

(sorry)
Ramble 3rd December 2007, 19:38 Quote
Excellent news, I'd hate for all those people to come to Opera and start ruining it for the rest of us.
Woodstock 3rd December 2007, 22:31 Quote
i wonder what percentage of users use firefox on bit-tech?
JaredC01 3rd December 2007, 23:19 Quote
I made the switch over a few years ago and haven't looked back since. I'm also an avid Thunderbird user, and again would use it over Outlook or Outlook Express any day of the week.

Oh, and Leitchy, I'm a developer of sorts as well... Graphic designer, website designer, PHP coder, Flash programmer, and a few others... The only time i use IE is when I need to check cross compatibility. Other than that, I don't even have an IE icon on my desktop.



Go Firefox! :)
proxess 3rd December 2007, 23:26 Quote
Been using firefox since 0.8 alpha so... way back! I can't live without it <3 specially without a bunch of plugins like foxmarks and all-in-one gestures <33
jezmck 3rd December 2007, 23:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeX
Quote:
Lilly was quick to ensure people didn’t understand the point he was making though.

Hah, beat me to it.
Sparrowhawk 3rd December 2007, 23:36 Quote
I'd say that estimate is a low one. I know many people who have one copy of Firefox on a PC, but many users. Alternately, I'm one user, who has three copies (one on a USB drive, one of Firefox 2, and one of Firefox 3 Beta 1.) Also, my entire school has Firefox installed.
Rebourne 4th December 2007, 05:53 Quote
It goes Opera>Firefox>being robbed>IE for me.

Firefox isn't bad by any means though.
RotoSequence 4th December 2007, 06:14 Quote
Good for Mozilla - but its just a web browser...

...Says Roto while using Firefox because IE sucks horribly...
Woodstock 4th December 2007, 07:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrowhawk
I'd say that estimate is a low one. I know many people who have one copy of Firefox on a PC, but many users. Alternately, I'm one user, who has three copies (one on a USB drive, one of Firefox 2, and one of Firefox 3 Beta 1.) Also, my entire school has Firefox installed.

same but only some of techs pc have firefox, and some do but the option to configure the proxy is blocked
danskmacabre 4th December 2007, 08:15 Quote
Been using FF for years.
In my experience, it's faster than IE.

The one thing that used to bug me about FF was it used to hang loading PDF files, but that was fixed a year or so back.
mWMA 4th December 2007, 08:17 Quote
Not sure why anyone would use IE considering most sites are now doing good support for firefox. I used to run into 5-6 a week which didn't display or work correct in FF but now it seem more like 1 or 2 at most a week. But, thank god for the IEtab extension in FF it is just a click to switch to IE engine to fix that.
Kurayamino 4th December 2007, 08:50 Quote
Just personal feeling really I think but Firefox feels lighter than IE. Especially 7!
Djizasse 4th December 2007, 11:39 Quote
I'm a developer and i've been using FF since v1. Only used IE when the site refuses to work in FF, but thanks to the IE bar plugin, not anymore.
Now i'm using the FF3 Beta 1, it's faster. I don't even care for not being able to use mouse gestures (yet).
Tim S 4th December 2007, 11:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodstock
i wonder what percentage of users use firefox on bit-tech?

More people use Ff than IE :)
Woodstock 4th December 2007, 12:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
More people use Ff than IE :)

as they should lol
Lazarus Dark 4th December 2007, 15:43 Quote
What sites don't work on FF these days (besides ms own site)? I haven't encountered one in two years. Though I do mostly use tech sites, which would be most likely to assure compatibility I guess.

Haven't touched IE in... two years? Anytime I use someone elses comp, I dl FF for them and show them, though I don't set it to default, that would be rude.

I have Opera, but rarely use it. For some questionable sites though, it seems more secure since no one really cares to exploit such a low userbase browser.
completemadness 4th December 2007, 17:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings! *pics*
How were these statistics generated, if its based on some website monitoring clients that visit (and because you have geographical ratings, compare it to the IP address) its probably very inaccurate
Quote:
What sites don't work on FF these days (besides ms own site)? I haven't encountered one in two years. Though I do mostly use tech sites, which would be most likely to assure compatibility I guess.
I think a lot of sites are compatible

Possibly because FF now works better with badly coded sites
And probably because most people now code to standards (and use validators to check it)

Because Firefox, opera and a few others actually follow the standards properly, they work well
But IE still isn't anywhere near standards compliant and as such, still needs special coding for things to work (its a nightmare - sigh)

Edit:
On that note, the BT main page has 55 errors :o
impar 4th December 2007, 17:56 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
How were these statistics generated, ...
Just need to follow the link.
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
... if its based on some website monitoring clients that visit (and because you have geographical ratings, compare it to the IP address) its probably very inaccurate
Your alternative is...?
cpemma 4th December 2007, 19:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus Dark
...tech sites, which would be most likely to ensure compatibility, I guess.
I often spot errors on the PC-Pro site
Code:
 Demo &#45; Discover How Quad&#45;Core Intel Xeon Processor ...
Though no browser will allow for those silly mistakes. :(
Quote:
...most sites are now doing good support for firefox.
Quote:
I think a lot of sites are compatible
"Most" and "a lot" aren't good enough. Find a single site that falls over when you're trying out a new browser and you'll likely drop that browser. Firefox has had to adapt to poor coding or lose market share, but it still isn't as tolerant as IE, plus most commercial sites were written to work in IE and re-writes cost money.
completemadness 6th December 2007, 09:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Your alternative is...?
Well the only real way (IMO) would be to have the browser phone home when you use it
However, I wouldn't want my browser to do that (and I'm sure a lot of other people wouldn't)

There is no good way, unless every site on the internet all gathered statistics, that way, it wouldn't matter where you surf, But even then, you can fake your browser ID, and so on and so forth

The problem is, there is no good way, yet people still come out and quote these statistics, which are based on foundations so shaky that coughing could bring them down
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpemma
"Most" and "a lot" aren't good enough. Find a single site that falls over when you're trying out a new browser and you'll likely drop that browser. Firefox has had to adapt to poor coding or lose market share, but it still isn't as tolerant as IE, plus most commercial sites were written to work in IE and re-writes cost money.
I find FF to work very well, and if you look at the source code for websites, you usually find them putting in fixes for IE6/7 - and that's it

But I personally probably only visit a handful of sites a week, so I doubt I see that much of the rubbish
impar 6th December 2007, 11:06 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
The problem is, there is no good way, yet people still come out and quote these statistics, which are based on foundations so shaky that coughing could bring them down
No, they wouldnt be brought down. Its statistics, not reality. Its expected to be a model of whats going on in reality. Shouldnt be too far away from it.
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