When you look at the browser usage statistics, you will notice that Mozilla Firefox is still doing quite well on desktop computers. On Android, Firefox’s usage share isn’t great at all. Statcounter, one of the usage share tracking companies, sees Firefox at 0.5% of the mobile market, but at 7.8% of the desktop market.
Mozilla released a new version of Firefox for Android a while ago, hoping that the move would give the mobile browser a much-needed boost. While usage figures have remained more or less stable at around 0.5%, it has limited one of Firefox for Android’s main distinguishing factors: add-ons.
Firefox Stable for Android now supports a handful of extensions, unlike most of the extensions that were previously available for Firefox. While the list includes popular options like uBlock Origin, NoScript or Dark Reader, it lacks compared to the previous version of Firefox.
Mobile browser inequality
Google Chrome and Apple Safari have a clear advantage on mobile as they ship by default with most mobile devices. Chrome is the default browser on most Android devices, and on Apple mobile devices, it’s the company’s Safari browser. Samsung’s mobile browser is in third place and also has an advantage as it is the default web browser on Samsung devices (with Chrome also installed).
It remains to be seen whether the Digital Markets Act in the European Union will have a level playing field. Even if it does have an impact, it will only affect the market in the European Union and not elsewhere.
A possible solution
To compete, mobile browsers must offer features that Chrome or Safari do not. It will be hard for Mozilla to compete on a technological level, for example, make Firefox feel much faster than Chrome on Android, or beat Chrome when it comes to support for innovative new technologies.
One option Mozilla has is to make Firefox for Android the most private browser available on Android. If you check out the latest privacy test for Android browsers, you’ll notice that several other browsers outperform Firefox when it comes to privacy. (Note: The site is run by a Brave employee)
Only a fraction of internet users care about these privacy tests and whether or not a browser is fingerprint resistant.
Here’s my proposal: reach an agreement with the developer of uBlock Origin to get the extension natively integrated into Firefox. Start it by default using sensitive settings that provide a good level of protection and web compatibility.
Firefox would feel lightning fast on mobile thanks to the built-in content blocker, and battery usage would also improve as a consequence. Mozilla could implement better options to disable content blocking on certain sites to highlight that this would help sites that rely on advertising to survive.
The downside of this would be that Mozilla would lose a large portion of the revenue that comes from Android. Mozilla relies on a Google search partnership for much of its revenue. It’s not clear how much the Android browser contributes to this. Mozilla might look for another search company, one that respects privacy when it comes to searches.
Alternatively, Mozilla could try to generate revenue through donations.
Now you: what do you think of the proposal? How would you try to increase the market share of Firefox for Android?