2024 browsers: Will Firefox rise after Google Chrome updates?

Firefox stands as the sole major non-Chromium-based browser, granting Mozilla complete governance over its development trajectory
The image shows the Firefox logo on an orange background. — Unsplash
The image shows the Firefox logo on an orange background. — Unsplash

As we venture into 2024, the realm of web browsers promises an intriguing landscape, particularly due to anticipated alterations in Google's widely-used Chrome browser, potentially affecting segments of its user base unfavourably.

The impending shift towards Manifest V3 for extensions within Chrome holds the potential to negatively impact content blockers, privacy extensions, and various other extensions. Concurrently, the emergence of the Privacy Sandbox signifies the end of third-party cookie tracking, entrusting Google with augmented control over user data, while simultaneously complicating the task for others to match up.

An overarching query surfaces: will these developments benefit other browsers, and if so, which stand to gain the most? There's a possibility that a substantial contingent of Chrome users might remain indifferent if their frequented sites continue to function seamlessly and if Google's privacy assurances hold true.

For those contemplating a switch from Chrome, two primary avenues beckon. Opting for another Chromium-based browser such as Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, or even Microsoft Edge might seem a logical choice. This transition offers continuity in web compatibility, the retention of extensions, and the streamlined importation of browsing data, ensuring a seamless experience.

However, the hitch lies in the continuous pressure these browsers face to assess Google-influenced features integrated into Chromium's open-source core. Since Google exercises control over Chromium, other Chromium-based browsers can only react indirectly to most changes.

Google's modifications in Chromium invariably permeate all Chromium-based browsers unless deliberately disabled. Brave, for instance, maintains a catalogue of features and services removed from Chromium due to privacy or security concerns, highlighting the ongoing struggle for autonomy.

Switching to Firefox

The alternative avenue available to Chrome users is switching to Firefox. Firefox stands as the sole major non-Chromium-based browser, granting Mozilla complete governance over its development trajectory. This autonomy allows Mozilla to choose whether to adopt or disregard new features introduced by Google in Chromium and Chrome, depending on their impact on users.

Yet, this distinctiveness poses a challenge for Mozilla, necessitating greater resource allocation for development compared to non-Chrome Chromium-based browsers. The implementation of new standards and features might consequently take longer, while performance and stability also remain key considerations.

While most Chromium-based browsers rival Chrome in web compatibility and performance, Firefox confronts hurdles with each release. Some sites, expecting a Chromium-based environment, may not function optimally in Firefox.

Mozilla's lack of significant platform control further complicates matters. Microsoft leverages Windows to promote Edge, while Google exploits its web properties to advocate for Chrome.

However, despite Firefox's allure, criticism persists. Mozilla's claims of prioritising privacy often clash with default telemetry collection and past incidents like the controversial Mr Robots collaboration, tarnishing its image.

Although users can fortify Firefox's privacy settings manually, the default installation maintains a balance between user privacy, Mozilla's interests, and telemetry collection.

Mozilla's resurgence might hinge on the recent unlocking of full add-on support in Firefox for Android. Despite being a minor browser on the platform, Firefox for Android's extension support stands as a distinguishing feature, absent in major Chrome browsers.

Mozilla's challenge lies in reclaiming its innovative edge and becoming a frontrunner again. To achieve this, Mozilla must make arduous decisions, repositioning Firefox as a genuine privacy-centric browser, and potentially attracting former and new users.

The road ahead for Firefox in 2024 remains uncertain. Whether it revitalises its user base or witnesses a further decline hinges on Mozilla's strategic choices amidst a dynamically evolving browser landscape.