What's the Alternative to Firefox?
18 Feb 2022
Firefox is great, but they’re not doing themselves any favours recently. Does a viable alternative to Firefox exist?
Urgh, Mozilla. What are you doing to me? You, me and Firefox have been good pals since 2005 – not long after your 1.0 release. That’s 17 years…probably older than some of the people reading this post!
During that time you have become my bastion for the web. As smartphones entered the market, I was quick to install you on there too. But you’re ruining it. Please stop.
What’s the problem with Firefox?
If we take Firefox on its own, as a web browser, it’s a fantastic piece of software that I use every single day. But Firefox has lost the browser wars, and reportedly has around 4% of the browser market at the time of writing.
They’re almost insignificant at this point.
However, 4% is still a shit load of people and is higher that Microsoft’s Edge browser…at the moment.
Anyway, back to the problem. As with most things in life, it all centres around money. If we take a look at current market share, it looks something like this:
- Chrome 63.06%
- Safari 19.84%
- Firefox 4.18%
- Edge 4.12%
- Other 8.8%
Chrome is backed by Google, Safari is backed by Apple and Edge is backed by Microsoft. You see a pattern here? All these companies are MAHOOSIVE and have many other products in which to make money from.
Firefox, on the other-hand, is backed by Mozilla and they’re all on their own with no other products of note that can shore up the business.
To add insult to injury, a lot of Firefox’s funding comes from Google in the form of a deal to set Google as the default search engine within the browser.
Trying to diversify their revenue streams has led to them shilling their VPN service in the browser and dipping their toe into the shit show that is Crypto nonsense, which garnered a very interesting reply from the founder of Mozilla:
Of course, there’s also the ridiculous pay rises that their CEO has gotten over the years, despite their ~30% market share fading away into obscurity.
Teaming up with Meta (Facebook)
Yes, dear reader, you read that right. Mozilla are teaming up with Meta to produce a new privacy preserving way of serving up adverts. They call this Interoperable Private Attribution (IPA).
Isn’t that just bloody brilliant!
To be fair, looking at the proposal, the technology appears sound to me, and if it were just Mozilla working on this, I’d feel a lot more comfortable.
But the fact is, Meta are involved. And we all know they’re a privacy vortex of doom. Furthermore, in Mozilla’s announcement of IPA, they make very little mention of what Meta’s involvement is.
That really concerns me.
Alternatives to Firefox
So after 17 years of happily foxing with fire, I’m seriously thinking about a move to another browser. But the problem is, what are the alternatives?
Here’s some of the alternatives as I see it (in no particular order):
I list 6 browsers here (there are way more), but Chrome, Edge, Vivaldi and Brave all use the same web engine, Blink. Safari uses WebKit and Firefox uses Gecko.
Many browsers use Blink because Google open sourced it with their Chromium browser. So pretty much every bloody browser out there uses Blink; thus giving Google even more control over the internet. Brilliant.
But that aside, let’s look at the options.
- Chrome is out. Because, you know…de-Google all the things.
- Vivaldi is also out because it’s just got WAY too much going on in the UI.
- Brave is private, but is chock full of crypto nonsense, so that’s out too.
- Edge is a possibility. I use it in work occasionally and it’s pretty good.
- Opera haven’t used it in years. Is it still relevant at this point?
That leaves Safari. Now, I’m a Mac user, so this makes the most sense and I’ve tried to do this in the past. But I really dislike the sparseness of the UI.
Maybe that’s just down to the fact that I’ve been using Firefox for so long now, that the UI is muscle memory at this point. I don’t know.
DuckDuckGo have had a browser on mobile for quite some time, and recently announced that they’re developing a desktop browser too.
I have high hopes for DDG, as they take privacy seriously and I use their search engine. I’ve had their browser installed on my phone for a while now, and recently switched to it as my primary browser.
Whatever DDG Browser is doing in terms of blocking stuff, I found that a few websites were broken using it, so I’m not sure how usable the desktop version will be. I’ll still give it a go and write about it when they release it though.
What can I do?
Honestly, I’m not sure what to do here. There’s no clear Firefox alternative that I can see. Maybe I should just stick with Firefox and watch them fade away into obscurity, then be forced to switch?
I’d much prefer it if they got their shit together though, stopped messing round with side projects, or ridiculous ways of making money, and focussed on improving Firefox itself.
They still have millions of users worldwide, so maybe a paid version of Firefox with some extra features couple be possible? Or a simple sustainer program, like Signal implemented.
That may be naive of me, and Firefox may never be able to get away from the Google dollars. But I think there are better ways of diversifying their revenue than what they’re doing now.
Do you have any recommendations for Firefox alternatives? If so, please do use the button below to let me know, because I’m struggling to find a good one.