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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mozilla Firefox 3.5 scores 8.3M downloads. Quadruples the new version's market share in 24 hours

More than 7 million users downloaded Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox 3.0 Web browser during the first 24 hours after its launch, according to the company.

A Web metrics company tracking hour-by-hour use of Firefox 3.0 added that the new version quadrupled its market share during the first day.

Although Mozilla's download servers were offline for more than an hour Tuesday after the scheduled 1:00 p.m. Eastern launch, 8.3 million copies of the browser were downloaded in the first 24 hours, Mozilla's CEO John Lilly reported Wednesday afternoon.

The U.S. led all countries on the download count, with 2.6 million, followed by Germany with more than 662,000, Japan with 403,000 and the U.K. with more than 295,000. Other countries with large numbers of downloads included Canada (223,000), China (173,000), France (290,000) and Iran (250,000).

Before Firefox's launch, Mozilla had urged users to help set a single-day download record that it hoped would be sanctioned by the Guinness World Records organization. While there is no current record to beat, Mozilla said last month that it wanted to top the 1.6 million downloads of Firefox 2.0 on its first day in October 2006.

Meanwhile, Internet measurement vendor Net Applications Inc. posted tracking data that showed that Firefox 3.0 had quadrupled its market share during its opening day.

Firefox 3.0 accounted for 0.98% of browsers used to connect to Net Applications' customer sites in the hour before the open-source browser's launch. By 9 a.m. Wednesday, Firefox's share had grown to 4.3%, after which it slipped somewhat during the next two hours to 4.2% and then to 3.7%.

As a comparison, Apple Inc.'s Safari browser held third place last month in Net Applications' ranking, with a 6.3% share.

Vince Vizzaccaro, Net Applications' executive vice president of marketing, predicted two weeks ago that all versions of Firefox combined would break the 20% bar next month. He said the jump in Firefox 3.0 use might advance that milestone. "Firefox certainly has momentum on its side. I predicted here that Firefox would hit 20% market share some time in July 2008, and that seems to be holding true," Vizzaccaro said in an e-mail. "Firefox 3 may even help cross that threshold this month."

Not everyone was happy with the update, however. Computerworld reader Bailey Don, for instance, complained about the revamped address bar, which some have called the "Awesome Bar" and Mozilla has dubbed "smart location bar."

"I actually hate Firefox 3 and will return to Firefox 2," Don said in an e-mail. "The address bar is way to [sic] confusing as the address bar is now like a history bar. Which is annoying."

The redesigned tool automatically completes addresses, dynamically ranks the results and can be used as an inside-the-browser search tool to find previously visited pages. Users who don't like the smart location bar's appearance, however, can restore a Firefox 2.0 look and feel to it with the Oldbar extension, a free add-on that can be downloaded from Mozilla's site.

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