In a blog release on Friday, Mozilla Firefox's VP, Johnathan Nightingale, wrote that he had ordered those in charge of developing Firefox for the Windows Metro interface to stop further development. Why? Because, per Nightingale, Metro adoption is flat. His reasoning? Because on any given day the organization could never see more than 1,000 users testing Firefox for Metro, when they normally see millions of people testing a pre-release version developed for the desktop.
Over the weekend, Paul wrote a note about the Firefox on Metro announcement and it's worth a read. Since Paul's article, I've seen many other articles written about the Firefox on Metro demise, and they all take a similar tact: Metro is dead because Mozilla stopped development of Firefox. That truly begs the question: Is Firefox truly that strong of an indicator?
Granted, Windows 8's Metro interface has been a tough sell for Microsoft, however, it's not dead. Ask a Windows tablet user and they'll tell you they prefer the Metro side of Windows 8 over the desktop side.
But, maybe there's something else here. If you look at Desktop browser stats over the couple years, Firefox's overall popularity has waned a bit and where Firefox lost points, Chrome gained. To be honest, I never loaded Mozilla's Firefox Metro offering, and asking around I can't find too many who did, either. I definitely heard about Mozilla releasing betas, but I'm a bit more connected to the industry than most. And, once I heard about it, I forgot about it quickly. It just wasn't monumental enough for me to work my life around installing it. What I run on my Windows 8 desktop and tablet works just great for me.
But, I'm one of those strange people, I guess, who believe that Firefox is bloated and slow. As much as I dislike Google, I agree they offer a better browser that is sleek, fast, and as thick or thin as you decide to make it. So, Firefox's Metro attempt never really tempted me. Still, Firefox is a strong desktop contender, sitting behind Chrome at around 17% market share.
When you dig further into stats over the last year, you'll also note something else interesting that adds context to this discussion. For mobile and tablet, Firefox doesn't even make the list. Safari leads, followed by Android, Chrome, Opera, and Internet Explorer. Metro is a tablet/mobile interface, yet Firefox has literally no market share in this area – for any platform. With the world steadily migrating to all mobiles, tablets, and convertibles, maybe it's less about Metro and more about Firefox. Maybe Firefox is becoming irrelevant in a modern world.
Just something to think about.