Here’s a statistic that might interest you. Of the visitors
to ycombinator.com, who are mainly young hackers, the breakdown
in browsers is: Firefox 47.7%, MSIE 23.2%. So in this audience
Firefox is already more than twice as popular as Explorer.
Paul’s comment made me wonder what the latest Firefox vs. IE stats were on O’Reilly web properties. While these properties appeal to hackers, we also have a large enterprise and mainstream audience, so I expect them to lag ycombinator a bit, but still to show strong gains for Firefox. Here’s what I found out. (Stats are from the first quarter of 2005, from www.oreilly.com, www.oreillynet.com, and other sites we manage such as xml.com, onjava.com, and www.perl.com.)
Internet Explorer: 54.66%
Mozilla 1.7: 2.70%
Compare these numbers to the first quarter a year ago:
Internet Explorer: 75.53%
In short, during the past year, Firefox has basically wiped out the Netscape browser, and has taken 20 points of share from IE. Safari browser has grown fractionally, but given the rise in Apple’s market share, these numbers would suggest that a good percentage of Apple users are switching to Firefox as well.
Meanwhile, Janco reports that Firefox share in the broader market has surged past 10%.
All of this is nice validation of the premise of Watching the Alpha Geeks, namely that hackers are a good predictor of certain types of technology adoption. By the time O’Reilly is publishing books on a topic, that topic is already well on its way to becoming mainstream. (We start developing books and other properties a year or more in advance of their public debut, which is why watching O’Reilly from the outside only gets you half the way towards watching the alpha geeks :-) Radar.oreilly.com gets you a bit closer to the front lines.
P.S. Jessica Boyd, the advertising coordinator for the O’Reilly Network, who dug up these stats for me, just sent a followup message, as follows:
Looks like the switch flipped in October of last year. The “Other” category started by bumping Netscape then taking away from MS after that.
Other: 9% – Firefox was 36% of that. (i.e. 3.24% of total)
Other: 35% – Firefox was 67% of that (i.e. 23% of total)
By Dec. 2004
Other: 39% – Firefox, 75% of that (i.e. 29% of total)