The big outlets are reporting that the revenues to Mozilla were up for 2009, 34 percent higher than for the 2008 year. The chairman for Mozilla has stated that Mozilla is an underdog, however, possibly to soften the blows when the results for 2010 come in.
In 2009, Chrome was not the powerhouse that it is right now, and had not begun to eat into the market share of Mozilla – early on it was only attracting the disenchanted Internet Exploder users, as they were used to having few features, and so the promise of “spartan, but secure” was not a big deal.
Mozilla was cranking right along, with its extensions allowing its users to do many things that had to be hacked on other browsers, or not able to be done at all.
Then the race began.
Browser speed was a big deal to the boys with the WebKit designs, and suddenly speed was the most important feature of the browser to many. It certainly became a point of difference with the mainstream computer press. Perhaps it was because all the early Chrome had was raw speed, but the developers soon made that change. Chrome was fast, but Safari, also WebKit based, was quick as well, and had some features that were not yet available to Chrome.
Soon, Chrome had extensions that didn’t bog the browser down, and were vetted in a better fashion, so that they did not leave huge holes to exploit. Opera had jumped on the bandwagon, and though always quick, became quicker. Firefox seemed to lag behind, and it looked as though the Mozilla team was ready to rest on its laurels for a while.
It has not been reported what caused the folks at Google to put out Chrome, but when they did, Google was much less forceful with the offering of Firefox to new users. Once when someone downloaded the GooglePack, Mozilla was top of the list of things offered. Now, it’s Chrome, but also, not that much attention is paid to GooglePack.
An article from PC World today tells of Mozilla’s fortunes coming from search providers, which, by a good margin, is Google. With the number of users of Firefox shrinking, the revenues certainly must be down, and coupling that with the slow development cycle of the browser, it is not looking like there will be any growth in the near future.
The problems seem to also stem from Mozilla being a bit top heavy, with its top executives making nearly a million dollars a year between them (perhaps that helps with the non-profit status).
With the major revision 4 running far behind, it also does not help that Mozilla is in the beginning stages of an IRS audit (no reasons specified), but that cannot be anything that helps morale.
Each time Chrome, or Opera, or even Microsoft, comes out with a new beta, it is one more small slap at the Mozilla offerings, and the fact that the company cannot, or will not, try to bring the release schedule to anywhere near parity with either of the top two is not a good sign. Every Firefox user wants a product that is trouble-free, but when other teams are doing better, with fewer resources, or with resources spread across a greater landscape, it makes the Mozilla efforts look very weak.