Why We Are Based on Firefox

2/1/2022


When I started Datalus, one of the first decisions I made was whether to base our product on Chromium or Firefox. We do get quite a few questions about this, and I wanted to take some time to explain my thought process that got here. Choosing Firefox was not a simple decision; we looked at performance, features, privacy, and competition. In the end, Firefox was the clear choice.

The first item is performance, as it will be noticed most by users. For our users, who will have reduced 3rd-party content, speed should be faster than either base system. However, the underlying browser's capabilities are still pretty important. In the end, speed was similar and not a determining factor. Memory usage was a different story, with Chromium's and Chrome's memory usage being a source of much disdain from users. Here Firefox has a clear lead when dealing with power users.

In the feature space, the story was quite reversed, Firefox lacks profiles, a hugely regarded feature. It does offer tab scrolling and both have a considerably large pool of plugins. Chromium ends up being the more holistic option and in Datalus, we plan on adding profile support as our first major feature and to contribute it back to Firefox. Contributing back is something we'll be focused on as a business, not only in our technology.

Privacy is a place where Firefox shines, blocking third-party cookies already and offering a suite of privacy options that are not enabled by default. Chrome is known for its tracking and Google, in general, does a lot of tracking of users. It does a poor job of disclosing this, and doesn't even try to compensate the users for their data. Simply using their browser is considered the reward. So the choice here was clear with Firefox.

The last item is competition, which is the great differentiator for Firefox. Despite being a great browser, Firefox market share has dropped to under 10 percent, contributing to a monopolistic browser ecosystem where Chrome and our Chromium-based competition account for more than 60-70 percent of all browsing. Here we truly stand apart by enhancing the open source competition.

We analyzed other factors, such as build quality and licensing, but neither had a much greater advantage for our users and our company. In the end, we chose Firefox not just because it was the best for our use case, but also because it was the best choice for the ecosystem. In the tradition of Mosaic, Netscape, and Firefox, we are building the people's browser. Open source at our core, we will be taking the incredibly hard work of the Mozilla Foundation and using it for our "web2.5" browser and marketplace to give users back control of their data.

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