Firefox lost 56 million users in 2 years — why it can't keep up with Chrome and Safari

Firefox Browser
Firefox Browser (Image credit: Firefox)

Mozilla Firefox took significant steps this year to win over more users, including an overhaul that makes its UI clutter-free and privacy-focused updates to appease security-minded web surfers. Despite these efforts, as of June, Firefox owns only 3.2% of the global browser market share, according to Statista.

What's worse is that Firefox is also struggling with user growth. According to Firefox's Public Data Report, the browser lost a whopping 56 million users over the last two years. Firefox's grip on the browser market is slipping as Google Chrome and Apple's Safari continue to attract more users (h/t Gizmodo).

Firefox exposes severe drop in monthly active users

In January 2019, Firefox's monthly active users (MAU) surged to about 254 million. As of July 2021, Firefox's MAU figure plummeted to 198 million. In two years, the browser lost a whopping 56 million users. 

Firefox Data Report

Firefox Public Data Report (Image credit: Firefox)

The report explained that Firefox experienced MAU dips during the late spring and early summer months, as well as the end of the year (for the holidays).

However, the report glossed over the fact that nearly 60 million users have walked away from the browser since 2019. The question is, why? Gizmodo posits that the drop-off suggests users are ditching Firefox in favor of Google Chrome and Apple's Safari, which are conveniently pre-downloaded on many Android and iPhone devices, respectively.

On top of that, Firefox uses Google as its default search engine. Why bother using a browser that offers a sliver of Google's search prowess when you can enjoy Chrome in all of its glory? 

Last August, Mozilla renewed its contract with Google, ensuring that Google remained Firefox's default search-engine provider until 2023. According to ZDNet, the deal is worth somewhere between $400 and $450 million per year. Most of Firefox's revenue comes from Google.

As mentioned, Firefox made sweeping changes to its UI with Firefox 89, but this may have backfired. Some users reacted negatively to the overhaul. Although Firefox tried to pander to the privacy-minded crowd with updates that promoted security, some argued that the tweaks were not adequate, according to Gizmodo.

Still, Firefox's 198 million MAU figure is nothing to scoff at. Firefox managed to secure third place behind two browser giants: Google Chrome and Apple's Safari. However, if Firefox doesn't do something to stop the mass exodus of users leaving the browser, it could fall to fourth place very soon.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!