August 27, 2009

fear of the awesomebar overblown

There are a number of articles popping up in the last few days that are making a big deal about the recent uninstall survey results showing that a decent number of Firefox 2 users who refuse to upgrade to Firefox 3 or 3.5 are concerned about the Awesomebar revealing some of their "private" bookmarks to anyone looking over their shoulder or using their computer.

Most of this coverage is overblown. Articles and blog posts that contain both "firefox" and "porn" probably get a lot eyeballs and I think that's what's going on here.

Why do I say it's overblown?

As of this week, 94% of Firefox active daily users are on Firefox 3 and Firefox 3.5.

(I don't have absolute user numbers for other browsers, but usage is a reasonable proxy here and if you look at Safari, they still have about 16% of their usage coming from two versions or more behind the current release. If you look at the other browser with a significant number of users, IE, a whopping 37% of that share is two versions or more behind.)

If you didn't have any numbers, reading most of the coverage around this would probably lead you to believe that a large percentage of Firefox users were still using Firefox 2. Compared to the other two mainstream browsers, Firefox users are actually very current.

Then there's the actual survey data. If the survey is representative of all of the people still on Firefox 2, then what we're actually talking about is ~1.5% of Firefox users citing the Awesomebar as holding them back.

So Firefox has more users on the current versions than the other browsers and about 1.5% of Firefox users don't like a new Firefox feature. Is that really worthy of all this coverage?

Posted by asa at 8:13 AM