Chrome may soon pass Firefox in popularity

Firefox was the go-to alternative to Internet Explorer for many years. Then, in September 2008, Google released Chrome. The Google browser has been slowly growing in popularity since then, and a web stats firm quoted by Computerworld now expects Chrome to unseat Firefox as the world’s second-most popular browser in December.

According to StatCounter’s data, Chrome is sitting pretty with a 23.6% "global average user share" for this month, compared to 26.8% for Firefox and 41.7% for IE. That means Chrome still has a little more than three points to go. Computerworld points out Chrome has already gained eight points this year alone, though—a 50% increase since January 2011. Firefox and IE slipped by four and nine points, respectively, over the same span of time. Chrome’s rise to second place seems inevitable.

It’s not hard to see why Chrome has gotten popular. Not only is it a solid browser with a clean user interface and rather good rendering and JavaScript performance, but Google has been promoting it aggressively across its online services. A good number of geeks and former Firefox fans have switched, too… including me. In my experience, browsing with Chrome just feels smoother and snappier than it does with Firefox.

Comments closed
    • kitsura
    • 8 years ago

    As usual the most innovative browser, Opera gets no love.

    Lots of features that originate from Opera just get copied over and fanboys keep raging about those being the best browser ever.

    However as much as i try to get into other browsers (Firefox, Safari, Chrome) I keep going back to Opera just because its still the easiest to use and has mouse gestures something I think another browser might copy soon.

    Now if only devs will stop ignoring Opera and ensure full support for it and not just IE I’m sure webpage compatibility will be much better.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 8 years ago

    Totally agree about the speed and the feel. I like the look as well. I do advise people to look at SRWare’s Iron which has none of the phone home and additional privacy and security features. I’ve been using it for at least two years now and I can’t say enough good things about it.

    Chrome still isn’t as privacy and security aware as Firefox but it gets closer all the time. Notscripts is a must.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    I agree that Chrome seems snappier, though it’s barely better than FF.
    The reason I haven’t switched yet is because Chrome lacks many of the plugins that make FF great.

    As default installs, there’s little difference in the functionality or appeal of either. Both have differing UI and config methods to achieve the same results.

    However, it’s like comparing Windows and Linux. Both are powerful, equally valid ways of doing most things, but Windows has a truckload more tools and software available for it, as well as that elusive cherry-on-top that Linux users don’t get: DirectX gaming.

    [b<]Google's excessive push for cloud computing also worries me. My stuff belongs with me, not with Google. They can quite rightly f*** off and leave my personal data alone, period.[/b<]

    • moog
    • 8 years ago

    Does Chrome have a privacy mode? Or is it “privacy” mode? I use my privacy mode a lot. 😉

    I tried Chrome a yr ago, surprisingly it’s slowness made me uninstall it. When scrolling through long Facebook/Zynga feeds it slowed to a crawl, whereas FF didn’t have any slowdowns.

    With FF getting faster, I doubt I’ll switch ever. Surprisingly IE is pretty solid too and good for those times when Facebook/Zynga screw something up.

      • Stargazer
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Does Chrome have a privacy mode?[/quote<] Yes, it's called Incognito Mode. (Chrome has had such a mode longer than FF, IE and Opera)

    • mutarasector
    • 8 years ago

    I just don’t see Chrome’s dumbed down UI as all that appealing, nor is it as UI configurable as FF. FF7 is plenty fast enough, but affords me a level of granularity in UI tweaking than Chrome (or any other browser for that matter) comes close to. Opera’s and Chrome’s speed dial is interesting, but the FF speeddial extension simply blows the other speed dials away, IMNHO.

    • clone
    • 8 years ago

    I found Chrome works ok and all but I can’t get past the fact that in order to make changes I’ve got to go onto the web when it’s an app in my computer…. just feels … invasive.

    I’ve used it a cppl times and deleted it everytime not out of any kind of disgust but because I just prefer FireFox.

    I was looking into Opera and installed it once but haven’t gotten around to using it.

    now that I mention it I’m going to install it right after I click “add post”, had forgotten that I was interested in trying it.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Opera FTW!!!

    • Ashbringer
    • 8 years ago

    This is probably more due to the fact that many free downloads are automatically selecting Google Chrome as an optional download. Download Google Earth and it’ll install Chrome.

    When was the last time you saw FireFox as something that is optionally and automatically selected when you install another application?

    It is effective, as I know many family members who use it cause it is installed. I go through the trouble to install FireFox with some effective plugins that makes it worth using it over Chrome.

    Well, at least Ubuntu automatically comes with Firefox. Chrome doesn’t have that.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      Don’t be sad. Chrome is better, but it’s not the end of the world for Firefox. You’ve always got the memories. You can even go pull up a new Chrome tab to type wi and then tab to search wikipedia for an article on Firefox’s history. Tales of past good deeds. Tales of great times when Firefox upstaged the reigning champ and seem poised to overcome and defeat the tyrannical IE.

      Alas, then they fell into a tar pit of poor performance and by the time they managed to claw their way out, they found a younger, snappier, better looking, much more convenient competitor stepping on their face to head off to face the dragon.

      Oops, Firefox’s face went back down under the tar. “Heeeey… what’s that you got there on your face?”

      “Huh? Wut?” More tar in the face.

      “I’ll come back for you!” Firefox cries from its sticky grave.

        • Chrispy_
        • 8 years ago

        You’re right about one thing, user loyalty. Most people don’t have nostalgia for FF, in fact – a lot of people switched to Chrome just because the new shiney is more interesting than the dull old browser they now take for granted.

        I have no loyalty though, and I suspect the masses have none either.
        I will use the best thing that fits my own personal criteria, and Chrome is gaining ground on FF fast.

        In saying that, I suspect the reason that Chrome is getting better is because it still has more room for improvement, whereas FF has done everything I want, the way I want it done, for ages now.

    • vikramsbox
    • 8 years ago

    Are these numbers based on installer download data or the actual internet access usage. I’ve used chrome for Linux and Windows and the Windows version never updates automatically. So, from 2010 (when I used Chrome for the first time) to date, for myself (1 user on 1 PC), chrome for windows has been downloaded around 50 times, simply as it always shows an update server error. My other choices like FF and Opera have not been downloaded even once after first install, as they update automatically.
    If Chrome updated itself automatically, there would be some percentage points up for grabs.
    From my experience, most people are not concerned with Chrome’s security strengths. They use it mostly because of the smart bar- its a no brainer. You just type your text and get going… it also helps Googles audience figures.
    I still love Opera, from the day I first used 7.54. and neither FF nor Chrome have been able to keep meaway from it.. its strong, has an integrated email client that beats the pants of TBird, has polish that others would die for, and class leading feature sets. I can also set it exactly the way I want.. without going through the archaic about:config crap that FF still clings to. The slower version number upgrades also assure me. It also has an USB install feature that allows you to carry your browser and profile with you, without needing to install it on every PC you visit.
    One question seems relevant- does usage of a beta version of a browser count? After all, beta versions are supposed to be ‘unstable and for experienced users’ for all software. Chrome usage for the stable versions would be a better indicator.

    • adisor19
    • 8 years ago

    Gimme a Tab Mix Plus equivalent extension for Chrome or Safari and I’ll switch in a heartbeat. I need my multiple rows of tabs. Without it, i can’t browse.

    Adi

    • Corrado
    • 8 years ago

    I only even use Firefox on my Windows boxes. On my Macs, I use Safari with a few extensions to enable searching from the address bar, Clean.nr YouTube and Amazon to get rid of all the fluff when I’m on those sites. Thats about it really.

    I was actively using Chrome for every system, and ended up uninstalling it due to Google’s flippant disregard for personal data. I know that there are many more companies doing the same thing, but I prefer to be a company’s customer as compared to being their product, personally.

    • jensend
    • 8 years ago

    I used NS 2 through 4.7, Mozilla M9 or so through 1.7.x (though it probably wasn’t my primary browser till around M16), and FF 2 up to the present day 7. It was a great thing to see Mozilla finally come together as well as it did after years of wait, to see FF revitalize the community in a lot of ways and pick up mainstream interest, to see the IE monopoly finally erode and webmasters start coding to standards rather than requiring IE 6 for everything, and to see a truly competitive browser market develop. Though my bug testing and evangelism (recommending Mozilla to others and complaining to non-standards-compliant webmasters) surely had very little impact, I guess having been a tiny part of that success makes my browser choice a little sentimental.

    But Mozilla has spent the last year eroding my trust and my will to stick with them- making all kinds of ridiculous changes just because Chrome is the cool kid on the block and they feel they have to imitate it, breaking the browser as a platform by having all kinds of incompatible changes every few weeks, showing active contempt towards experienced users and towards enterprises, and pulling all kinds of other stupid stunts. I sure hope they can get their collective head on straight and turn things around.

      • kitsura
      • 8 years ago

      Standards-compliant and FF today is an oxymoron. The latest version can’t even support the webpages that FF3 supported. And let’s not get started on the plugins compatibility.

    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    LOL….. Take the numbers above with a grain of salt.

    There are lies, DAMN lies and then there are statistics.

    They only tell part of the story if any of it at all. I work on computers for a living (like a good number of you I’m sure) and I’ve always laughed when tuning up a computer and notice that the user has 3 browsers installed. IE, Firefox, Chrome.

    IE – Pr-installed, ok.
    Firefox – Most of them know about it and tried it back in the 3.X.X days, or a “Tech Savvy” friend installed it for them and they never used it or they used it and IE somehow claimed default browser back.
    Chrome – Most of them have NO freaking clue what it is or why its on their computer. And an even equal number of them have claimed that for some reason anytime they would go to get on the internet, the “Look” changed.

    I accredit the Chrome “popularity” with Google’s highly aggressive advertisement packaging. Download CCleaner or any other number of pieces of software and Google Chrome is sneakily included in the installer. Its so easy for it to get installed on a users system and set as the default browser, the majority of people are sheep who will use whatever they are given. So I’ll say again, take the above numbers with a grain of salt.

    This is one Google fan who will keep using his Firefox 😉

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Your logic is flawed. Webstats don’t count what is installed on a machine. They count what User Agents are presented to a http request. If they do not use the browsers, they do not get counted. For someone that does “work on computers for a living” then you should know that.

    • A_Pickle
    • 8 years ago

    Really?

    Wow, we’re so done for. It, apparently, isn’t bad enough that everyone and their dog uses Google’s online services without batting an eyelash (create, edit, and store my personal documents online? what could go wrong!)… now, it’s apparently cool to ditch the open-source but otherwise [i<]completely equivalent[/i<] browser in favor of giving Google rights to your local system by installing Chrome. Cool. Well, when the world burns, I'll be fine.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      Everyone’s so plugged in now it hardly matters. The terminators will know where to get me just as well as they will 99.99% of every other American.

        • squeeb
        • 8 years ago

        There is a shirt out there with the word Skynet in google font/colors. I love it hehe

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 8 years ago

          [url<]http://www.bustedtees.com/Skynet[/url<]

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 8 years ago

        Well to be fair, if it ever came down to that scenario it would be divide and conquer. They’d come after you one at a time, until there would be no one left to fight back.

      • Geistbar
      • 8 years ago

      While your criticism is not unfounded, I would be very hesitant to describe Firefox as completely equivalent. Comparable? Yes. They are not equivalent though. I prefer Chrome for its (for me) far superior user interface, and fonts that are far easier on the eyes. Ever since switching, Firefox has felt intolerably clunky to me. I will not begrudge others for preferring Firefox, but they each have their advantages.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      Completely equivalent must mean something different in your native tongue than it does in mine. In mine, this term includes performance, superior UI, and proper search engine shortcuts via predictive typing. In these areas (for my uses), Chrome walks all over Firefox.

      It’s not even close. I suppose it’s worth noting that I always use the developer version, though. Firefox was good in its day, but its day has passed. The king is dead; long live the king.

      Hail to the king, baby.

        • Stargazer
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Completely equivalent must mean something different in your native tongue than it does in mine. In mine, this term includes performance, superior UI, and proper search engine shortcuts via predictive typing. In these areas (for my uses), Chrome walks all over Firefox.[/quote<] When it comes to performance, both of them are "superior" for different usage cases/scenarios, and the same applies to the UI. As for search engine shortcuts, Firefox has had those since before it was even called Firefox. Sure, Chrome might have more of them set up by default, but if you're using the developer version, surely you can manage to right-click a search bar to add another one? Basically, both browsers have their advantages (and downsides), and either could be "best" depending on the user. Chrome's largest advantage is probably the ease with which it is maintained/updated (though interestingly it gets this advantage by completely disregarding best practices regarding how programs "should" be installed), which makes it very suitable for people who want a completely transparent update process that doesn't bother/confuse (depending on the type of user) them.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 8 years ago

      There are versions of Chrome/Chromium that don’t collect all kinds of data about you and phone home though. SRWare Iron, Chrome Plus for example.

      Not that I disagree with you at all in regards to your stated privacy concerns.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    Last I used Chrome I liked what I saw. I lasted about a week before going back to FF.

    What didn’t work for me:
    The annoyance of installing in user context and messing with scheduled tasks.
    I missed noscript.
    I missed the fullscreen mode of Firefox, which is something I use all the time. It is implemented better (like the ability to Control+L to open a new page.)
    I couldn’t seem to get a set of tabs for homepages working right, (something I saw with Opera also.)
    The final nail in the coffin was a few crashes, which I don’t like on any browser I use, and I don’t care if it takes out just a tab, it just shouldn’t happen period.

    Overall Chrome is popular because of their Chrome spam on Google’s front page, something IE was bashed for as anticompetitive. I think people are sheep though so don’t really care what they use.

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    Wait a moment….

    [quote<] As of Wednesday, Chrome's global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox's stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%.[/quote<] IE at less than 50%? I agree: it depends on whose figures you take, but nevertheless.... That after all that brohaha about IE9...

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    epic fail for work. you cant open pdf files without saving, then clicking on the downloaded pdf. FF is way more flexible for my taste. the nav, bookmarks, and menu bar are nice and tight, with little space lost. i wish i could say the same for chrome.

      • homerdog
      • 8 years ago

      Actually that’s completely false. I just fired up a PDF in Chrome to make sure I’m not crazy, and it opened right up in the browser.

        • A_Pickle
        • 8 years ago

        Yes. Google decided (if I recall correctly) to implement their own in-browser PDF viewer, even though everyone and their dog has done it before… and done it better.

          • khands
          • 8 years ago

          IIRC this is a sort of recent development though, like within the past few months.

      • dlenmn
      • 8 years ago

      False.

      • maxxcool
      • 8 years ago

      False, I use it for ABS pdf server all day long… sooooo much fatser. *however* IE9 is catching up…

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      The only “epic fail” is your post. Native PDF support is one of the “bullet point” features of Chrome. Chrome has one of the most minimalist interfaces of any browser, so there is virtually nowhere that they could “save space” either.

      You obviously like FF more and that’s cool, but that’s no reason to make up FUD about Chrome.

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    🙁

    But then again, Firefox doesn’t have the complete Google machinery to get support from.

    • Game_boy
    • 8 years ago

    I couldn’t put up with the crashes where it says “Firefox is already running” and you have to go to the Task Manager to close it.

    • Musafir_86
    • 8 years ago

    -Me? I’ll be with Firefox for a foreseeable future.

    -Why? A truly open source web browser, backed by a non-profit organization that fully endorse (& continuously pushing) open web standards. No hidden agenda, just pure open & free web. From 2004 until now.

    -To me, Firefox is THE web. 🙂

    Musafir_86.

      • axeman
      • 8 years ago

      Not that I necessarily agree with Google’s method of operation here, but the backbone of Chrome is all open source. It’s a little harder to find on Windows than Linux, but you can run Chromium builds which are 100% open source AFAIK.

    • jpostel
    • 8 years ago

    Chrome made my sh*t list when it *magically* ended up on my wife’s laptop. Some update for another app must have installed it (flash maybe?)

    I hated that crap when Apple did it with Safari, and I hate it now with Chrome.

      • r00t61
      • 8 years ago

      I had the exact same experience, with an Adobe Flash update automagically installing Chrome without my permission, or even any notification. It got uninstalled right quick.

    • ew
    • 8 years ago

    The important point here is that IE is dropping the fastest.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 8 years ago

    Switch, why? So google can spy on me more than it already does? No thanks.

    • Klanky
    • 8 years ago

    I only just in the past few years switched away from IE, first to Chrome, which was meh, and just recently to FF. I’m loving FF so much more, and I can’t think of any good reason why. I remember not liking the visual design of Chrome (it reminded me of Windows XP default ‘cartoon bubble’ UI…ugh). Also, Chrome would give me very strange errors…..when I would try to go to Google’s own site. I tried a bunch of the fixes recommended online but nothing worked….

    FF has been great so far!

      • Klanky
      • 8 years ago

      Oh and before everyone points out that you can change the Chrome UI, yes, I did do that. Something about Chrome still bugged me, anyway.

    • udo
    • 8 years ago

    Ubuntu user here, starting with v 9.04. Throughout I’ve been using FF, Chrome and Opera. However, In my opinion, since 2010 there is no real alternative to Chrome in terms of usability, speed and overall performance. FF memory/cpu usage used to be crazy in earlier versions (this has improved with v6 and 7 though), installing extensions like Flash/Java was a major pain (I’m not even talking about 64bit here) .
    Prior to 2010 good extensions for Chrome were hard to come by, esp. AdBlock was one reason to stick to FF. Today with AdBlock, SSL Enforcer and Flash Block (only to name a few) there is solid alternatives.

    Starting with v.11 I believe even Opera is preferable to Firefox (again, Linux). It’s the little things that make a difference – and you usually only notice them after thorough testing. Opera is the fastest browser around (yes, faster than Chrome but the little comfort, bloated layout and complex menu settings are deal breakers)
    In general, whenever I encounter rendering issues (e.g. eBay selling forms are not displaying correctly in Chrome) I use Opera as an alternative.

    That, again, is speaking for Ubuntu – interestingly in my opinion Chrome compares less favorably using Windows 7. FF (starting with v6) is my first choice on windows machines.

    So I would not generally say Browser X is better than Y. As with most things in life, it depends on the situation (and the user profile).

    • MaceMan
    • 8 years ago

    When it comes to bulletproof family support (Grandma), Chrome is fantastic with its updating and simplicity. Its just more idiot proof.

    When it comes to customizing, (themes, plugins, bookmarks, etc) I’ll take Firefox every time.

    • mav451
    • 8 years ago

    Chrome is gonna remain my alt-browser until certain things are ported over in terms of extensions. Not saying that as a bad thing, since I use both on a daily basis.

    • riviera74
    • 8 years ago

    FF prior to 7 does devour a lot of RAM. FF7 is faster and more efficient, for the most part. I tried Chrome a little while ago and I never liked it for some reason. To each his own.

    • just brew it!
    • 8 years ago

    I switched to Chrome because the Linux version of Firefox (circa a couple of years ago) just seemed really sluggish. Took forever to load, and it didn’t feel “smooth”. To their credit, Firefox seems to have made significant strides in addressing these issues in newer versions; but the damage is done, I’m a Chrome convert now!

    The minimalist interface drives some people nuts; but once I got used to it, I found I preferred it.

    My only real complaint is that printing has been a little hit-or-miss in the Linux version, but this has improved in recent versions.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      Linux FF has always been a lathargic overweight browser. FF in linux and FF in windows are two entirely different animals. Pretty much every other browser out in linux lays waste to FF (even 7) in terms of performance.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I have both and use them for different things. Both are great browsers.

      • squeeb
      • 8 years ago

      Same!

      • Vasilyfav
      • 8 years ago

      Agreed, Chrome when I want to look up something fast, Firefox for all my bookmarks, youtube video downloading, web dev. etc.

      I use Chromium & Pale Moon.

      • A_Pickle
      • 8 years ago

      [quote=”kamikaziechameleon”<]I have both and use them for different things. Both are great browsers.[/quote<] Okay, you softie apologetics. I get (but don't accept) this as an argument-ender for the neverending Mac vs. PC debate, but Chrome and Firefox? Are you serious? What, do you do video editing on Chrome and gaming on Firefox? They're browsers. What in the hell could you possibly use one for that you can't use the other, and how is it somehow better to have to switch between two applications that do [i<]exactly the same things[/i<]?!?

        • khands
        • 8 years ago

        Firefox still has a lot more plug-ins that simply don’t exist yet in Chrome, and while Chrome is generally faster, it sometimes gets hung up on things that FF doesn’t (the other way around is also true). I still even use IE sometimes when I have to (though that’s generally limited to microsoft.com).

          • ludi
          • 8 years ago

          Of course, Firefox then went and [i<]broke[/i<] many of those add-ins when they went to the expanded screen layout. I can understand the impetus to make that transition, but much of FF's successes have been predicated on add-ons rather than the core product. I've also had a couple spectacular FF lockups within the past few months that required a system reboot to fix, and that never used to happen. If Google Chrome becomes the next big browser it won't be on account of Chrome being so much better, but because FF went chasing too many rabbit trails and became unfriendly, bloated, and buggy.

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            “I’ve also had a couple spectacular FF lockups within the past few months that required a system reboot to fix, and that never used to happen.”

            What modern Operating system requires a reboot for a faulty browser?

        • kvndoom
        • 8 years ago

        I have all 3 on my computer as well. Sometimes if a site is acting weird, I’ll load it up in Chrome to see if the problem is the site itself or just a FF issue. IE is a last resort for browsing, and I can’t uninstall that anyway.

        But mostly I have Chrome because every so often when I hear people rave about how awesome it is, I fire it up and use it for a few minutes to remember how much I hate that godawful interface.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        Quake Live has bugs under Chrome, but runs flawless under any Firefox version.

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