I just made a rather strange discovery and I'm not sure what it means.
I'm using Live Stats.XSP for my clients, and I have access to my raw logs because of my dedicated server.
In looking at the site stats, as I do at least once a month, I noticed that FireFox was generally the 8th or 9th-most used browser, and the percentage is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 0.5%-1%. So that in itself is not uncommon, nor does it especially surprise me because most of my sites target Canadian markets, and Firefox really hasn't made a lot of inroads onto people's machines.
To give my friends south of the border a bit of background, we're usually light years behind in technological matters. Our hosting services are inferior, our Internet merchant discount rates are at least 1% higher, and most people in Canada still believe that sites I did in 2002 are cutting-edge. (They're good sites, but I certainly wouldn't go so far as to say they're cutting-edge and I have improved tenfold in the graphic area since then, but I digress.)
Of the people that I know and the machines I've serviced, I only know of one person that has it on his machine; he's an engineer and an anti-Microsoft activist, so this would be expected. Of the people I've talked to, I would say as a conservative guess 95% have never even heard of FF, and the ones that have do not like it one bit.
In fact, of the ones that do know about it, most of them have uninstalled it because, as one of my subcontract IT employees put it, "it's just a slightly different-looking version of IE that uses four times the resource."
(NOTE: Before anyone gets sidetracked, I'm not looking to start a debate here. I know there are developer tools included within FF that can help designers build better sites. I'm merely trying to point out the prevailing sentiment that I've seen. So please don't come up with a million reasons why Firefox is better. That's not the point here. The point is that, based on my observation, the vast, vast majority of Canadians have not heard of or do not like Firefox, since it doesn't work for them.)
Anyway, FF percentages that low (0.5%-1%) don't fully surprise me, due to the Canadian market and my experiences with the inroads FF has made here.
Here's what does: Netscape 7.0 has been steadily rising for a lot of my clients, with percentages anywhere from 5%-25%, when it used to be that they were barely a blip on the radar screen.
Also, "unknown" browsers seem to be coming up a lot more frequently (3-5%).
IE is still the dominant browser, but the percentage has shrunk.
In looking at my raw logs, I've noticed that the number of Firefox entries in the user-agent string (I don't know the exact technical term, but it's the querystring that contains all the UA information) is higher than the Live Stats seem to be reporting. Based on rough observation, I would say 1 in every 20 user agent strings has "Firefox" contained within.
So...I have two questions....
1) Is this indeed a flaw in Live Stats, and are in fact at least some of the Netscape totals?
2) Is the only thing that distinguishes Firefox from other user agents the "Firefox" in the user-agent string?