It was six years ago today that Mozilla officially released Firefox 1.0. Yes, I was writing about Firefox back in 2004 too when 1.0 came out.
2004 was an exciting time for Firefox, it was literally changing the way we see, use, and work with the web.
After six years and many point releases later, Firefox has achieved much with great 1.5, 2.0, 3.0 and 3.6 releases that have expanded the concept of what the open web is all about.
That said, Firefox at 6 is now entering a new phase, where it faces its toughest competition yet as it stares down the double loaded barrel that is Google that could threaten its existence.
When Firefox 1.0 came out, the pace of Mozilla’s innovation was above and beyond any other browser vendor. That’s no longer the case.
The idea with the Lorentz branch of the Firefox 3.6 series was supposed to be about introducing new features faster, but that really hasn’t happened in my opinion. With Firefox 4 development, Mozilla developers are still on a not-quite Agile approach to development that is put to shame by the extreme agility of their open source peers at Google’s Chromium effort.
Firefox 4 development has not progressed at the milestone pace that it should or could have in my opinion. Lorentz promised us rapid innovation, but waiting 6 plus months between releases when Google puts them out every 3 months is not the definition of agile.
That said, when it is done at some point in 2011 it will be a solid browser, but the pace of innovation is a cause of concern at age 6, especially as power users begin to move in increasing numbers to Chrome.
The other large issue facing Firefox at 6 is the revenue model, also fueled by Google. Mozilla has loads of cash on hand, but I don’t think that they can expect that the same revenues they get from Google today, will be around for them 6 years from now.
Money and agility questions aside, at age 6, Firefox still enjoys the skills of a fantastic technical community. I think that Mozilla’s technical leadership is now the best it has ever been with leadership on the standards front as well as on usability. On the security front, their response to issues is un-paralleled in its speed.
Overall, I personally have been very happy to be a Firefox user for the last 6+ years, it’s a platform on which I work, live and play.
Happy Birthday Firefox!