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As Mozilla talks up Firefox’s future, the present is killing it

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Mozilla last week took the unusual step of issuing a short video update on its Firefox browser, declaring it wants to “help users get the best out of the Web” with “suggestions that help people find items from their history, places they frequently visit and web content most relevant to them.”

When posted to YouTube, the under-two-minute message was largely panned by commenters as vague, a marketing spiel, and a head-in-the-sand refusal to acknowledge feedback from users.

Meanwhile — and perhaps not coincidentally — a thread on Reddit begun two days before the video hit pointed out that the browser had lost 50 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the last two-and-a-half years.

What’s going on? Is Firefox in an existential crisis?

Let’s take it chronologically.

Lousy numbers

On Reddit’s Linux sub-Reddit, Mozilla’s habit of losing users kicked off a thread of more than 2,000 messages. “Firefox lost 50M users since 2019. Why are users switching to Chrome and clones?” asked u/nixcraft on July 31, citing Mozilla’s own MAU (Monthly Active Users) data, which tracks the number of desktop clients launched at least once in the past 28 days.

Firefox’s MAUs are in worse shape than that.

From Jan. 27, 2019, to Aug. 1, 2021, Firefox shed 57.5 million MAUs, representing a reduction of about 23%, or nearly a quarter. That’s a precipitous decline for a browser with no fat on its user base bones.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.