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Why Chrome Hasn't Killed Mozilla Firefox

firefoxFrom the Happy 4th Birthday Chrome' files:

Four years ago, Google launched Chrome. At the time, I wrote a commentary piece that it wasn't likely that Chrome would kill IE.

As it turns out, I was (mostly) right. IE still exists, though it has its lowest share in years, thanks in no small part to Chrome's growing share.

Chrome however isn't just growing entirely at IE's expense. It has also had an impact on Mozilla's Firefox too.

When Chrome came out in 2008, I don't think it was clear to me that four years later I'd be talking about Chrome version 23. That's right, Chrome has pushed out an average of 6 or more stable browsers a year, every year since 2008.

That incredible rate of release has not been mimicked by IE. IE continues to evolve at a comparably glacial pace. For those that require Google Apps and modern web apps in general, IE simply doesn't move fast enough.

But what about Firefox?

The impact of Chrome's rapid development has led to Mozilla's own rapid release cycle. When Chrome was first released, I was thinking about Firefox 3. Now I'm writing about Firefox 15. Of course, numbers don't really matter all that much, but there is no doubt in my mind that Chrome forced Mozilla's hand in a way that likely would not have happened otherwise.

While Google clearly wants to take share from IE, they are also aiming to take share from Firefox too. Hardly a day goes by when I don't see a Chrome ad show up on Google (or elsewhere) that has been browser targeted at me (and yeah I use Firefox). While I don't know what Google's Firefox aimed Chrome ads have done in terms of user conversion, I suspect that the number is non-trivial.

That said, Firefox is likely better today because of Chrome. Personally I preferred the slower release cycles that Firefox once had. As a journalist (and a wannabe web dev) it's just easier for me to consume new development innovation in a less rapid way. That said, the reality of the modern web is that we all rely on big web properties and those big web properties all move fast and are able to take full advantage of new innovation faster.

While Chrome has made the web move faster, it is clear to me that Chrome isn't likely to kill Firefox either. While Firefox does have some Chrome inspired features (silent updates etc), they are delivered differently than the Google approach.

Firefox continues to have a standalone search box and Firefox continues to respect user choice in a way that no other browser does. Mozilla, though it's PR, marketing and outreach efforts are far from perfect, still has a vastly superior and more transparent workflow that lets users, developers and even journos like me, easily follow the path of development. No such clear transparency exists with Chrome.

From the beginning, Firefox has always been about user choice and transparency. That's why in a world where there is more browser innovation than ever before, I personally continue to choose Firefox and so do millions of users.

So happy birthday Chrome, nice browser, but I'm happy sticking with Firefox.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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