Firefox: Millions and millions of downloads...sitting on the shelf

Why go through the bother of sucking up your bandwidth with a download and then not clicking on the icon to install it?

It was a bit distressing to read that despite tens of millions of Mozilla Firefox downloads, 75 percent of all Firefox downloads never get used, according to Mozilla. Mozilla has therefore launched a contest to get input on how to solve this problem.

Firefox logo

It's a good move, but I'm frankly dumbfounded by why millions of people would bother to download Firefox...and then do nothing with it. A majority of existing Firefox users upgrade to new versions, or did so with 3.0. So, existing users seem to like Firefox and want to stay with it, helping Firefox grow to roughly 20 percent of the global browser market.

But why are so many downloads - presumably from newbies - left to sit on the shelf?

It would be one thing if millions of people made it to the Firefox download page and then decided to stick with a previous version of Firefox (or Internet Explorer), but why go through the bother of sucking up your bandwidth with a download and then not clicking on the icon to install it?

Any ideas? Or, rather I should say in the spirit of Mozilla's contest, any solutions?


UPDATE: I heard back from John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla, who offered the following explanation:

It's probably not really three-quarters of the downloads that don't get used -- that's what our numbers show, but some of it is due to downloads not finishing, double downloads, people moving from one machine to a new one (where we gain a new user and lose one, but add a download). But it's hard to find actual information in the wild about usage rates of downloaded software a month after download -- we're sharing ours because we can -- but we can't really find any comparable data -- have you seen any?

I haven't, but how about anyone else out there?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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