Tuesday, May 3rd 2005
Many people have lately pointed out that the Firefox download figure is inflated by people who download Firefox updates manually. (As opposed to updating from the options dialog within Firefox.)
Scott Kveton recently produced some rather sleek graphs which show the Firefox download progress since its launch back in November. This one in particular makes it possible to (fairly accurately) estimate the size of this claimed figure bloat: We simply compare the total area of the peaks around the dates of the 1.0.x releases with the area of the continuous flow of downloads prior to these releases. This estimation builds on one main assumption:
Looking at the download graph, this assumption doesn’t seem completely unrealistic, since the dl rate was pretty stable from the beginning of December until 1.0.1 was released in late February.
So, here are the results of my pixel counting:
1029 pixels were above the stable dl rate after 1.0.1 was released, and 2871 pixels can be considered legit downloads. This means that 26.4% or about 13,500,000 of the now 51,150,000 dls most likely were updates. That leaves 37,650,000 dls that basically can be considered “new people giving Firefox a try”.
Update: Asa D points out that Scott has in fact included the Firefox update downloads in these graphs. That means the numbers should be more like (1-0.264)x66,000,000, which is 48,6 million – pretty close to the 50 M number. That’s almost weird if you ask me – I’d have thought that more than 2-3 million people updated manually. Well, well…