There has been much buzz this week around the arrival of Firefox 3.0: First, the record-setting download day, then the vulnerability alerts, and the new feature reviews. But both Forbes and InformationWeek also published pieces this week explaining why the open source browser is important -- to consumers and, ultimately, in the enterprise.
First, as Forbes writer Brian Caufield points out, whether or not Firefox 3's 8.3 million downloads in 24 hours constitute a Guinness World Record, the success of its debut day certainly propels the browser further toward its overall goal of snagging a larger share of the market from Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Caufield says:
Firefox grabbed 18.41 percent of the market in May, up from just 11 percent during the year-ago period, according to Web tracker NetApplications...[It] has become one of the most important pieces of software around today as consumers shift from using their PCs to run applications living on their hard drives to a communications device able to connect with applications living on distant servers.
And that's exactly what Mozilla wants. The company purposely does not market the browser to enterprises. The prevailing theory, according to InformationWeek, is this: Give consumers what they need/want, and do it well, and your product will follow them into the enterprise. We've seen it work before with smartphones and other mobile devices, and it's working with Firefox, too.
Some companies -- like Boeing and Fidelity Investments support and even encourage employee use of Firefox, but as writer J. Nicholas Hoover notes:
...unless they are outright prevented from doing so, a lack of enterprise support won't stop employees from downloading and using the browser on their own, with or without the backing of IT.
There's always an exception, of course. I actually learned about Firefox upon coming to IT Business Edge, where we use it along with IE, and it followed me home. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the fight for the browser market evolves -- especially after IE 8 makes its appearance.