As of July 2013, Firefox has approximately 16% to 21% of worldwide usage share of web browsers, making it the 2nd or 3rd most used web browser, according to different sources. According to Mozilla, Firefox counts over 450 million users around the world. The browser has had particular success in Indonesia, Germany, and Poland, where it is the most popular browser with 57%, 45%, and 44% of the market share, respectively.
History & Features
The Firefox project began as an experimental branch of the Mozilla project by Dave Hyatt, Joe Hewitt and Blake Ross. They believed the commercial requirements of Netscape's sponsorship and developer-driven feature creep compromised the utility of the Mozilla browser. To combat what they saw as the Mozilla Suite's software bloat, they created a stand-alone browser, with which they intended to replace the Mozilla Suite. On April 3, 2003, the Mozilla Organization announced that they planned to change their focus from the Mozilla Suite to Firefox and Thunderbird.
The Firefox project has undergone several name changes. Originally titled Phoenix, it was renamed because of trademark problems with Phoenix Technologies. The replacement name, Firebird, provoked an intense response from the Firebird free database software project. In response, the Mozilla Foundation stated that the browser should always bear the name Mozilla Firebird to avoid confusion with the database software. After further pressure from the database server's development community, on February 9, 2004, Mozilla Firebird became Mozilla Firefox, often referred to as simply Firefox. Mozilla prefers that Firefox be abbreviated as Fx or fx, though it is often abbreviated as FF. The Firefox project went through many versions before version 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004.
Features include tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental find, live bookmarking, smart bookmarks, a download manager, private browsing, location-aware browsing (also known as "geo-location") based on a Google service and an integrated search system that uses Google by default in most locations. Functions can be added through extensions, created by third-party developers, of which there is a wide selection, a feature that has attracted many of Firefox's users. Additionally, Firefox provides an environment for web developers in which they can use built-in tools, such as the Error Console or the DOM Inspector, or extensions, such as Firebug.
Downloads have continued at an increasing rate since Firefox 1.0 was released in November 2004, and as of July 31, 2009 Firefox has been downloaded over one billion times. This number does not include downloads using software updates or those from third-party websites. They do not represent a user count, as one download may be installed on many machines, one person may download the software multiple times, or the software may be obtained from a third party. According to Mozilla, Firefox has more than 450 million users as of October 2012. Firefox was the second-most used web browser until December 2011, when Google Chrome surpassed it. As of May 2012, Firefox was the third most widely used browser, with approximately 25% of worldwide usage share of web browsers. According to StatCounter, Firefox usage peaked in November 2009 and usage share remained stagnant until October 2010 when it lost market share, a trend that continued for over a year. Its first consistent gains in usage share since September 2010 occurred in February through May 2012 before declining again in June and July.