For many years, Mozilla’s non-profit web browser Firefox has been the only real competitor for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The ubiquitous IE has reigned in the browser market, but when Firefox debuted in 2004 it brought a refreshing alternative to Microsoft’s offering. Sleekly designed and more secure than IE6, the open-source Firefox was “browser of choice” for many tech-savvy users.

Recent reports show Firefox’s popularity on the decline, though. Ousted from it spot as the world’s second most used browser, Firefox is losing its share of the market as Google’s browser, Chrome, rises. Chrome cutting into Firefox’s market share isn’t the only threat to its future, though; Firefox’s lucrative partnership with Google to use Google as Firefox’s default search engine was set to expire in November, and its status is currently unclear. The deal accounts for a significant part of Firefox’s revenue, so losing out on those royalties would be a large hit to Firefox’s income. But even if Firefox’s future with Google is uncertain, Google is not Firefox’s only partner. A version of Firefox with Bing is also available.

With all these spectres looming, Chitika Insights decided to check in and see what things looked like for Firefox and its prospects. Using data pulled from a sample of hundreds of thousands of impressions in the past week, Insights looked at what search engines Firefox users are currently utilizing.

Google was still the overwhelming majority with nearly 80% of the share; Bing came in only third after Yahoo. A partnership with Microsoft could certainly be profitable in the long run, but it will take some work and time to bring it up to Google’s current adoption rates.

The other threat to Firefox’s existence is not what might or might not happen with Google, but what is or is not happening with Firefox itself. Since Chrome’s arrival on the web browser scene, Firefox has not been able to get by simply by virtue of being the sole viable alternative to IE. It has needed to stay truly fresh and innovative to stay relevant.

Firefox’s release schedule has not always kept it as current as its competitors. Insights looked at what versions of Firefox users were using to browse the internet. While a majority of Firefox users have the current version of the browser, there is a significant portion – at least a quarter – who are at least three releases behind. Firefox’s plans to allow silent updates may help this problem, though they aren’t scheduled to debut until version 12 is released. Still, their new rapid release cycle is promising for keeping Firefox moving forward. The only question is; Will it be moving fast enough to keep up with the competition?

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