September 17, 2009, 5:08 PM — Mozilla said yesterday that Firefox's check for outdated editions of Adobe's Flash Player convinced 10 million users to go to Adobe's Web site and grab the latest software.
About a third of the Firefox users who were warned last week that they were running an old, and vulnerable, version of Flash followed the link to update the Adobe software, said Mitchell Baker, the former CEO of Mozilla and current chairman of the Mozilla Foundation.
"This is a very high response rate," said Baker in a post to her blog . "A typical response rate for this [landing] page is around 5%."
"Those results have been nothing short of awesome," echoed Johnathan Nightingale, of Mozilla's security team, in an entry on the company's security blog yesterday.
Adobe on Thursday confirmed a spike in traffic to its Flash Player update page, and applauded Mozilla's move. "For us, anything that others do to help users stay up-to-date is a good thing," said Brad Arkin, Adobe's director for product security and privacy. "We're glad to see Mozilla doing this."
After Firefox 3.0 and 3.5 users installed the security update Mozilla issued last Wednesday, they saw a message on the "landing page" -- the first page that appeared after the browser restarted -- if they had an out-of-date version of Flash Player. "You should update Adobe Flash right now," the message read. "Firefox is up to date, but your current version of Flash can cause security and stability issues. Please install the free update as soon as possible."
The message also included a link to Adobe's download site for the latest Flash Player plug-in.
According to Ken Kovash, Mozilla's chief of metrics, 10 million people clicked on that link in the week after the update and Flash plug-in check were fed to Firefox users. On Sept. 10, the first full day after the update rolled out, about six million users saw the landing page. More than three million, said Kovash on his metrics blog, were running an outdated copy of Flash, and of those, over one million clicked on the link to Adobe's download page.
"Beyond the total impact of 10 million clicks, the most impressive pattern that stands out is the click-through rate," said Kovash. "While the Firefox 'whatsnew' page generally sees a click-through rate below 5%, the Flash update link alone has generated a click-through rate better than 30%. Phenomenal!"