Today, I'd like to tell you why I choose to use Firefox as my browser. It isn't the most popular option. Most people stick with either Internet Explorer (IE) as the default or have moved onto Google's Chrome. When I take a road less traveled as I do with Firefox, I feel I owe an explanation why - especially when the browser plays a large role in my productivity. To really understand why, I have to give you a little historical account (I'll keep it brief).
The History of Firefox
I've been using Netscape since it came out. When Microsoft very nearly kill it off by pouring money into Internet Explorer and bundling it with Windows, I was one of the few people hanging on to Netscape. I didn't want to see Microsoft get control of how people use the Internet. They already controlled the office software and operating systems markets. I don't feel it's healthy for one company to have all that power - lack of competition stalls innovation. Netscape went through a dark period and all my friends pleaded with me to just give in and switch to Internet Explorer. I didn't. Netscape released their code to the Mozilla foundation and their first application sweet was simple called Mozilla. People wanted a simple light-weight browser and that gave birth to Firebird... which gave birth to the Firefox.
During the time that time, Microsoft largely stopped developing Internet Explorer. Since IE had around 95% of the market, it only made sense that Microsoft declared victory and reallocated their resources. However, as people started to use Firefox, they realized it was much, much better than what IE was. There were a lot of new features like easy plugins and tabbed browsing that made people more productive. Firefox grew in popularity. It got to the point where Microsoft realized they had to put resources back in IE to keep it competitive.
The result of this healthy competition was rapid innovation in the browser software - and we all benefited greatly. Since it happened gradually there wasn't much of a parade and no one jumped out of cake. Nonetheless, there was reason to celebrate.
Google Chrome advances the Browser Landscape
Hot on the heels of Firefox's success, Google brought their Chrome browser to the market. Say what you want about Google, but if they feel they can improve on something, they will do it. They took a lot of the ideas in Firefox and added in a few improvements. Most technology experts agree that Chrome is the best browser out there. Their arguments for why Chrome is superior are quite sound, but the improvements are minimal.
If you aren't asking, "Why haven't you switched to Chrome?" you should be. I do have Chrome installed on my computer. I've been known to fire it up on occasion. However, I don't see what it can do that Firefox can't. I don't notice any faster performance with Chrome. I don't see any features in Chrome that would make me more productive. In fact, the process of switching from Firefox and the plugins that I enjoy, would make me less productive... at least until I became very familiar with Chrome.
The biggest reason why I don't use Chrome is because it is managed by Google. I have nothing against Google. I use a lot of their services such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Calendar. Those services are far better in my opinion that what anyone else offers. However, when it comes to browsers, all the competitors are on nearly equal ground. With all else being nearly equal, I'd rather support the non-profit Mozilla Foundation than put more power in the hands of Google. I'm pretty loyal to Mozilla and Firefox for bringing a new world of innovation to the browser. I think they've earned that loyalty.
Extending the Firefox Lesson to Mobile Operating Systems
Beyond that, I consider diversifying my technology portfolio to be smart business not just for myself, but hopefully for consumers in the future. This expands to my choice of cell phones as well. In a lot of ways, Apple's iOS reminds me of Microsoft and Internet Explorer. It had similar market-share. Apple has shown that they intend to control the ecosystem of their application store very tightly, sometimes eliminating applications that users want. Google's Android has caught up to Apple in market-share and has leveled the playing field. A third company, HP, through their purchase of Palm, has taken the equally impressive webOS operating system and gave it the financial backing to compete with iOS and Android. It seems like webOS is better geared towards the future with its focus on web technologies and it's great multitasking interface. I think the mobile OS space is better off having three competitors. I view supporting HP webOS as the best way to diversify my technology portfolio.
That's a fight for a different day. For now, I suggest you go download Firefox today.This post involves: