Why Firefox Will Flame Out
Why Firefox Will Flame Out
The open source community's favorite son is destined for the ash heap
Randall C. Kennedy, InfoWorld
Jan 19, 2010 2:38 pm
Mozilla's Firefox is doomed. Caught between the immovable object of
Microsoft Internet Explorer and the irresistible force of Google
Chrome, the free open source community's poster child will soon be
relegated to the ash heap of history.
At least that's my conclusion after sifting through the latest round
of excuse-making and finger-pointing coming out of the Mozilla camp.
Still laboring to deliver the long-overdue Firefox 3.6 release,
Mozilla insiders are now talking about a major restructuring of the
entire Firefox development process, leading some to question the
organization's ability to maintain the browser's increasingly top-
heavy code base.
Frankly, it's been a long time coming. Early popularity resulted in an
avalanche of third-party extension development at a time when the
browser's core architecture was still quite immature. This, in turn,
led to much publicized delays and false starts as the development team
struggled to keep the hodgepodge of fixes, patches, and structural
Band-Aids that made up later versions of the Firefox code base all
working together in harmony.
Now we hear that Mozilla is abandoning its traditional major release
cycle model in favor of smaller, incremental changes that it will
slipstream through security patches and other maintenance updates.
Basically, Mozilla's developers are admitting that they can no longer
deliver a fully baked and tested Firefox release in a timely fashion.
So they're switching to an incremental model where they can deliver
progress in more manageable chunks, thus bypassing the lengthy
external beta/feedback process altogether.
Of course, releasing lots of small changes without broadly testing
their effects on the underlying platform is often a recipe for
disaster. Just ask Microsoft, which has spent many thousands of man-
hours trying to integrate its often contradictory "hotfix" releases
into cohesive service packs that can be widely disseminated without
breaking Windows. Even with nearly unlimited resources, the Redmond
giant often fails miserably and has to further patch the patches to
set things right. To think that Mozilla will fare any better than the
world's largest software company is simply naïve.
Then there is the issue of corporate stakeholders. IE is the flagship
of Microsoft's Web application strategy, and for better or worse, IT
organizations are stuck with it as long as they invest in Microsoft's
back-office technologies. Meanwhile, Chrome has evolved from an
interesting thought experiment about Web browser security (replete
with comic book adaptation) to the linchpin of Google's master plan
for world domination.
Which leaves Firefox as the odd man out: Not part of anybody's
strategic road map, Mozilla's browser is almost entirely dependent on
the goodwill and enthusiasm of its supporters. As any student of
history will point out, popularity -- especially among the technically
savvy -- is fleeting. Just ask the folks behind the KDE project. One
bad design decision (or in KDE's case, a whole boatload of them) can
turn today's open source darling into tomorrow's scorned turkey.
For Firefox, the writing has been on the wall for some time now. In
fact, the moment that Google revealed it was developing its own Web
browser (thus leaving its one-time partner out in the cold), the fate
of Mozilla's favorite son was sealed. Now, as Chrome continues its
inexorable rise to prominence and Microsoft shifts gears from IE
maintenance mode to actively developing its browser code base as a
counter to Google's incursion, Firefox will increasingly find itself
being squeezed both from above and below.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, this story doesn't end well for
For more IT analysis and commentary on emerging technologies, visit
InfoWorld.com. Story copyright © 2010 InfoWorld Media Group. All
Re: Why Firefox Will Flame Out
My friend EP's reply:
"Never happen, its from the originators of web browsers in Champaign
Illinois and the plugin ability makes
It solid like total commander which has been around over a decade and
still going strong.
IE is a POS, and Chrome is too simple. Firefox will be around a long
time despite internal disputes."
I'll bet he wrote this w/o even reading the article.