Does Firefox Have Cooties?

Some highly visible projects have switched from Firefox to Chromium. Is a coup taking place?

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Lately, it seems, there's been a small movement amongst key projects in the open source community to move away from stalwart open source browser Firefox to up-and-coming newbie browser Chromium.

Earlier this month, news came out that in Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 Chromium would be the default browser (though Firefox will still be the default for the other *buntu 10.10 flavors). No official reason was given since several people found this news in some of the 10.10 blueprints.

Speed seems to be the reason why Flock CEO Shawn Hardin blogged yesterday that the new Flock 3 browser would be "the first major browser other than Google Chrome to be built on the Chromium platform." Previous editions of Flock were based on--you guessed it--Firefox.

What's the deal? Is Firefox just not good enough any more? Not hardly. Firefox is still hanging around 31 percent of market share (from Wikimedia), compared to Chrome's almost seven percent.

Likely the reason is that Flock (like Ubuntu) is looking for a platform that's already set to roll on mobile platforms.

Mozilla has been working on a mobile edition of Firefox for some time now, a development I look forward to seeing. But Chromium (and its commercial progeny Google Chrome) already has a solid mobile offering that delivers some real speed. That, coupled with the fact that Chromium has an expanding extensions gallery, makes for an attractive browser.

I know there's some people who have been upset that Firefox has grown into just as much of a behemoth browser it was supposed to replacing with Internet Explorer. And I have noted slower performance times as the new versions roll out, too. But Firefox still has great add-ons, it's more secure, and generally can get to any page I need. Chromium, and Chrome, were much faster the last time I checked, but still a little frayed around the edges.

Clearly, Firefox does not have cooties. This is just a by-product of having a diverse product ecosystem. Projects get to pick and choose the tools they need and not get stuck with just one tool from one company. Instead of showing a weakness in one product, these events really highlight the strengths of all of the products.

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