30 March 2007

Getting people to switch to Firefox

I have been doing my share of the ‘good work’ by introducing people to Firefox, and the world of extensions, themes and more convenient browsing. It’s not ‘as’ exciting as getting people to switch to an Apple :P, but it feels good to see a fellow person give up Internet Explorer forever, and you hope that this is another chain of switches you startedYou know how these things with non–savvy people go. You tell one, and they find it really cool. Then next day it becomes a small talk topic (sometimes to just show them as being more cool than the others :P).

I looked in at MarketShare today at the browser trends, and Firefox’s share has grown to 14% from February last year. This is really good considering how many peopleBy people, throughout this post, I mean non techies. there are. Also, Firefox is a change–over browser, not a default one. Taking all those into consideration, 14% is a very positive number. Firefox 3.0 is not far away either, with features filled up to the brim (always a darling with new adopters). Mozilla and extension–ers make our job easier everyday! :)

Browser share for February 2007

Another reason why the share of IE is high is because mods like Avant and Maxthon build on the shell, and add a lot of features that Firefox and Opera have. This removes the incentive of ‘new’ features to make the switch. I wish there was a way to see what share of IE users actually use the bare naked IE. That would sure wipe the smile off a lot Microsoft faces.

My most recent experience of getting someone to switch was a few weeks back. Though it was initially a resounding ‘No!’ to start with, the mention of the words ‘better security’ and 'no spyware’ opened a door. I then went ahead to show little features like search suggests, search by name (I skipped the part that it exists in IE as well) and finally threw in the kahuna of extensions and themes. It sold rather well :P This was my second or third time handling a non–techie actually, and I learnt a few things on how to make the 'sale'.

I guess IE really has become extremely familiar to people. But atleast we’ve progressed away from calling IE the Internet. But Firefox’s clean and simple initial interface (compared to IE’s row full of buttons) does land in a good impression. IE sits well also because people don’t want to go to the hassle of having more than one application to do the same thing. They use the ‘why use Photoshop when we have Paint’ logic. It takes someone to ‘show’ them that Firefox is better. I don’t think there are many people who switch all by themselves. Also, once switched, they aren’t many who go looking for features. They use the brute force ways from IE on the new browser, until you show them that there is a better way to do it.

I know from my statistics that majority of my viewers use Firefox (even Apple viewers). That may have something to do with the fact that IE refuses to load up my search box, and stops midway. In the past I used to worry about that, and try to fix my templates to at least render (somehow) in IE. I guess it would increase my readership, but I doubt it’ll be a significant rise. My feed readership is 3 times my daily page views. So as long as the feed reader renders properly in IE, my posts will reach everyone :)

There is of course not a shadow of a doubt that IE can never be better than Firefox, or any other alternative browser. The underlying code, and it being closed to any kind of extensibility (easily codeable by people) will see to that. That is also the reason Opera is sitting at less than 1%. Closed doesn’t work that well, especially if you’re closed to suggestions as well.