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Archer Allstars
Archer Allstars

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Now, I know the reasons why Firefox is falling... apart... The fox's downfall explained

UPDATE 07 May 2023: Fixing some typos and grammar errors.

First, I want to let you guys and gals know that I moved from Chrome to Firefox yesterday! It's because Chrome 113 came out utterly broken in the stable channel due to Chromium Issue 1356014. The UI scales horribly on my fractional scaled desktop. And even with the --force-device-scale-factor=1 flag that would fix the scaling size, but it will make the whole browser's UI blurry like when running on Xwayland, and the UI behaviors will be so buggy to the point of unusable.

However, moving to Firefox is not a smooth journey for me. It's not because of any lockdown from Chrome ecosystem, since there's none, but because Firefox lacks some very basic features that uses by millions of users around the globe. Without further ado, let's get into Firefox's downfalls.


1. No PWA support

Plane's cockpit

The reason I moved away from Firefox to Chrome in the first place (since long ago) was due to the removal of PWA AKA Progressive Web Apps in the browser, see Mozilla Bugzilla Bug 1682593 and Mozilla Bugzilla Bug 1407202. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants this feature back, as it's the #2 most popular idea on their Mozilla Connect page.

Well, does this feature affect typical users who are not a computer geek/nerd like me? Let's find out on pwastats.com where there are many PWA's successful cases showing that many people are using PWA on a daily basis. For example, Starbucks sees 2x of daily active users by implementing PWA. Their orders on the desktop are nearly the same rate as mobile. So, who said people on desktops don't use PWA? And according to Smashing Ideas, businesses that transition to PWAs often experience a notable boost in engagement, ranging from a minimum of 20% to as high as 250%, see here. I won't be surprised if more and more business entities start blocking Firefox from their websites because their revenues are on this matter. And if that ever happens, it will affect the end-users more than the others 🥲

Lastly, from a development perspective, PWA is beneficial to a solo or a small-team developer, for example, this is the case for Lunch Money and Budgetnuts. And there are still many big-name services that tend to offer their desktop apps only on Windows and Mac but not on Linux, for instance, Framer provides the desktop apps on Windows and Mac, and PWA on other platforms. Therefore, PWA also brings more freedom to the end-users to use their preferred OS without affecting their current workflow.

Oh, and there's PWAsForFirefox add-on. However, there are a lot of limitations. I don't think I would want to use it in place of Chromium's PWA implementation.

For whatever the cases, removing PWA support from the browser is really a dumb idea.


2. No Chromecast support

Plan Crash #1

Chromecast is available in all smart TVs sold around the globe in 2023. According to Statista, TV was sold around 240 million units last year alone. The smart streaming devices are expected to be sold at around 280 million pieces by 2028. Firefox would miss all those users since it doesn't support Chromecast. Chromecast was removed from Firefox 8 years ago, see Mozilla Bugzilla Bug 1142521. And there's a proposal to bring it back in the browser, both at Bugzilla (around 8 years ago) and Mozilla Connect pages, but to no avail.

There's an extension called fx_cast that lets you cast from Firefox to Chromecast devices. However, the installation process is clunky for most people, hence should be added to the core instead of living as an add-on that no one knows how long it will last which could lead to compatibility issue in the future.

Fortunately, I don't use Chromecast because I use 100 inches (2.54 m) projector as my laptop monitor. Therefore, I don't miss this feature so much, but the numbers don't lie.


3. Facebook's notification doesn't work for a while now

Plan Crash #2

According to DemandSage, Facebook has 2 billion daily active users as of 2023..., but Firefox is broken on this site, see Mozilla Bugzilla Bug 1766208.

I don't think there's more explanation needed for this issue, as it's effecting some 2 billion people on a daily basis for a year now, but Mozilla is still chilling.


4. Google Search doesn't work correctly in Firefox due to the missing standard that's implemented in all other browsers

Plan Crash #3

The standard that's missing in Firefox and makes it unusable on Google Search is scroll-to-text-fragment, see here. This feature enables the browser to scroll to a highlight text with a URL that ended with #:~:text format. Google Search uses this a lot as it helps the users to find the relevant info easily. And it's very helpful to share this type of link with your friends, so they don't have to ctrl+F all the time.

This feature consists of 2 parts:

  1. An ability to create a sharable link with fragment text in the first place. There's an add-on called Link to Text Fragment to do that in Firefox.

  2. An ability to view this type of link. There's an add-on called auto find text fragment which doesn't work, at least with Firefox 112 as of this writing.

There's an idea about this opening on Mozilla Connect, see here.

This feature is currently supported in all other browsers, even in Safari 😂, but not in Firefox 🥲


5. Missing a language translation on mobile

Plan Crash #4

According to daytranslations.com, there's 40% of the world population who speaks only one language. It means that most people speak more than one language. And according to techjury.net(Source: Statcounter), around 60% of website traffic came from mobile in 2022.

However, Firefox seems to miss all of these numbers altogether. People usually use the same browser on both their mobile and desktop to sync their data across all their devices. Therefore, if the browser doing worse on any of the platforms, people will switch away.

I am a trilingual myself, and having no way to translate some pages on mobile securely put me in a very hard time.

Fortunately, Mozilla finally noticed this issue and is making the feature available on Android through their Firefox Translations add-on. But it's only available on Beta and Nightly channel at the moment. I hope this feature lands on Stable channel soon. However, I don't know whether it will be too late for them, as at the time of this writing, the add-on only supports 10 languages. IMO, the best-selling point of this add-on is the user privacy, since the translation works offline.

I am using the add-on on desktop. It's working great 👍 At least, when compared to the one that's recently added in Brave.


Conclusion

Smoking

For a long long time, I always want to support Firefox. But their decisions were and are... totally out of this world, and in a bad way. Many people usually explain how Google abuse the market. But even for me, in my humble opinion in full, it's a lot harder for me to move from Chrome to Firefox than when I moved from Windows to Linux.

Honestly, I don't think Google is the reason Firefox fail. It's Firefox that shooting itself in the foot. For millions or even billions of users, Chrome/Chromium based browsers work much better than Firefox. Maybe, we pour too much support in the wrong hand. IDK, if we poured support in Chromium instead of Firefox, we might have a working browser on Linux a long time ago. We can fork Chromium however we want anyway.

Not only that, but I don't believe Mozilla will change their behavior anytime soon. Therefore, I will go back to Chrome, or even better, Brave, when Chromium gets itself together on Linux. I think this's it for today, bye 💨


Cover Photo by Tansu Topuzoğlu on Unsplash

Plane's cockpit Photo by Heng Films on Unsplash

Plan Crash #1 Photo by Benjamin Behre on Unsplash

Plan Crash #2 Photo by Martin Robles on Unsplash

Plan Crash #3 Photo by Martin Robles on Unsplash

Plan Crash #4 Photo by Daniele Buso on Unsplash

Smoking Photo by Dominik Kempf on Unsplash

Top comments (21)

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (double agent) • Edited

Those are your reasons and as such that are valid.

At the same time, they are probably like the top 42th, 69th and 83th reasons why the average internet choose chrome over Firefox.

Mostly the question itself is wrong, the average user doesn't choose.

Chrome comes installed on their Android and Chromebook, or it's what the IT department installed for everyone, or it's the top browser on everyone's mind from a marketing point of view, or it's what that little website called google.com recommend him to use.

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars • Edited

I guarantee, with these issues that I wrote about in the article going on, even if the users went out of their way and tried Firefox, they wouldn't be able to endure it.

What do you think will happen when they change the browser and can't cast, can't understand some foreign pages, Facebook is broken, Google Search can't highlight search queries, and have no way to create nice icons for their favorite websites on their desktop?

Chrome or Google isn't the reason users don't use Firefox. I changed to Firefox myself and I don't plan to stay here for long.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (double agent) • Edited

Problem here is that you are assuming that you know the audience, that you know what users will do and say instead of going out of the building and ask them.

Try it out as an experiment: go out of the building, and ask people what are the reasons they chose A over B.

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars • Edited

No, I didn't assume, but the numbers do the talking here.

Both Firefox's market share and the users that would affect by these issues in the billions, I can't say otherwise.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (double agent)

We all know the numbers but you assume you know the reasons without asking the users. That's what people often do and the Lean Startup movement was started because precisely that approach works surprisingly not well.

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars

IDK, you might as well assuming that a load of users on Mozilla Connect page that I linked in my article are not... the users... And you might as well assuming that people would want to browse on a broken website, instead of a working one. People might as well don't want to understand any content on any page they're browsing.

However, I believe those are not the cases...

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codenameone profile image
Shai Almog

Subjectively, these are all great reasons for me to keep using Firefox.

  • PWA is absolutely terrible. I don't want that.
  • I tried using Chromecast but it is so far behind Airplay. It's just very flaky.
  • I haven't logged into facebook in ages and don't plan to.
  • I barely use Google search
  • The translation feature on Chrome is so annoying and intrusive. I really don't like it.

All of these are symbolic of Google. They display either lack of respect for privacy or Googles monopolistic control. This also Ignores the huge advantages Firefox delivers in this regard.

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leob profile image
leob

LOL funny you are - so in essence you say that LACKING certain features is a great thing, because you happen not to like or use those features? Billions of people use Facebook and Google Search on a daily basis ... the numbers do the talking here.

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dogers profile image
Dogers

Yep, I've been using Firefox since it was the full Mozilla suite and they definitely seem to lose their way every so often. Hopeful they get another boost to bring it back again like they have in the past, but we'll see..

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars

I don't think Firefox can be improved any further. The browser seems like it's developed without internet users in mind. I won't hold my breath 😂

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pcjmfranken profile image
Peter Franken

The "URL Fragment Text Directives" concept from #4, whilst undeniably useful and indeed sorely missing from Firefox, isn't actually an official web standard or even in the process of becoming one. Also explained in the document you linked:

This specification was published by the Web Platform Incubator Community Group. It is not a W3C Standard nor is it on the W3C Standards Track.

And, yes, Mozilla has been making quite a few exceptionally confusing and estranging moves in some rather questionable directions.

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars

Firefox won't survive the market with its current direction. However, I don't care very much for Mozilla, but Firefox is the default browser on Linux, average users who try Linux could have a misunderstanding about Linux just because Firefox is doing worse, not Linux.

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tnypxl profile image
tnypxl

If Chromium did anything, it proved that the Gecko engine doesn't carry the same weight it did in the past. Browsers are competing on external features that make browsing more productive. Mozilla completely missed the turn in that regard.

Firefox doesn't offer anything that I can't get from even the most obscure Chromium-based alternatives. All the while Mozilla insists that common features in competing browsers are not worth it's time.

Mozilla has made their bed and it's ridiculous that diehards can't see it.

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ebitzu profile image
eBitzu

the fact that firefox is way behind in adopting web standards speaks more that a few missing functionalities. firefox has become the new IE as far as web devs see it. Spent some time on caniuse.com and most browsers keep up with the standards, not firefox. So it's death is iminent

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funk5thousand profile image
Funk5Thousand

Was this written by AI? Why are there pictures of airplanes all over the place?

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akselsoft profile image
Andrew MacNeill • Edited

Agreed. I tend to think that it may simply be that English is not the primary language of the author ( in which case kudos for writing in that language) but the grammar in certain parts certainly looks like it was passed through a bad translator or AI. Do a quick run through on Grammarly or another tool to clean it up and the article would read 100% better.

Please take this in the spirit in which it is intended. Constructive criticism on the grammar - not the content.

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars • Edited

Thanks for your suggestion ❤️

English is not my main language. I will try my best to improve on this in the future.

EDIT: I didn't use AI to write any of my articles 😂

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crt0r profile image
Timofey Chuchkanov

The arguments stated in this article seem to be highly subjective, and affect only a certain group of target users, though valid. There are lots of people—like myself—who don't care about any of the above features. For example, PWAs feel weird and crappy to me, as opposed to native desktop applications.

Chromium-based web browsers sometimes may be lacking in terms of features as well. On-page search is one of their weaknesses compared to Firefox.

It all just comes to personal preference, I think. One cannot satisfy everyone's desires for features.

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars • Edited

I am not talking about an individual here. All the issues are linked with their respective Mozilla Connect pages, which representing the real users.

Moreover, I talk about some millions-billions of potential users who could switch to Firefox if the browser didn't do as bad as it did.

EDIT: I am not sure when Facebook or Google Search doesn't work correctly in the browser, it will affect only a certain group of target users... (some billions of people).

And about PWA:

PWAs market is expected to reach a value of 10.77 billion dollars by 2027, that's 30% YoY growth. And the desktop installations of PWAs have grown with 270% since 2021.

Good luck for any browser vendor that's not investing on PWA.

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crt0r profile image
Timofey Chuchkanov • Edited

Well, there must be reasons to not implement some features, or to remove others. Who knows what goals Mozilla tries to achieve.

Also, I don't think that one can get significantly more users by just implementing a few features already present in another piece of software.

On top of that, each new feature introduces a couple or a dozen of new bugs and takes precious development resources, requires to modify things that are already polished.

Modern software already suffers from feature creep, so why to continue this trend.

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archerallstars profile image
Archer Allstars • Edited

In this situation, I don't think Mozilla can hope to maintain their users, let alone getting more. However, I am not talking about some features or some themes that I don't like either, but I am talking about some very basic feature set, i.e., the most viewed website in the world should work without any issue. Does this one worth investing? Or should the most used social network in the world break only in Firefox?

On top of that, each new feature introduces a couple or a dozen of new bugs and takes precious development resources, requires to modify things that are already polished. Modern software already suffers from feature creep, so why to continue this trend.

So true, this is the concept of GNOME Circle which is a collection of high quality small apps from indie developers. But come on, we're talking about Mozilla here. They generated $585 million from their search partnerships, subscriptions, and ad revenue in 2021 alone! I don't think resources is one of their issues, especially when Firefox usage is down 85% (in 2020) despite Mozilla's top exec pay going up 400%!

There's a recent Reddit thread about why we should stop supporting Firefox, see here. I don't know, since I didn't read it yet. But I am sure it will be a good read.