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Firefox add-on downloads top 3 billion

The number of Firefox add-on downloads has been steadily increasing since June 2007, finally crossing the 3 billion download threshold Thursday, Mozilla has announced.

"That's almost half of the world's population and more than the number of people on the Internet today," Erica Jostedt, part of the Mozilla PR team, said in a blog post.

The total number includes only downloads from the Firefox Add-ons Gallery, not themes.

Since the company introduced add-ons in 2004 via the Firefox Add-ons Gallery, and later for phones in 2009, more than 85 per cent of Firefox users have downloaded at least one add-on, and average about five add-ons per person, according to an infographic (below).

The web additions enable users to customise the features, functionality, and appearance of the browser, turning Firefox into a wholly personal experience.

Mozilla's infographic lists privacy and security, search tools, bookmarks, and themes among the most popular categories. Among specific add-ons, AdBlock Plus, Firebug, NoScript, Personas Plus, and Video Download Helper have garnered the highest volume of downloads.

Though most browsers (including Google's Chrome) now offer hundreds of add-on options, Firefox touts its place as the first online portal to do so. In eight years, Mozilla has collected more than 150,000 user-created add-ons, as well as at least 25,000 global developers.

Firefox continues to move forward, announcing earlier this month a standalone mobile OS on its way to smartphones in 2013 – a first for the Web-based browser. Expected to launch in Brazil early next year, Firefox OS devices have already been picked up by operators including Telefónica's Vivo, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, and Telenor.

Mozilla released a test version of Firefox OS for desktop last week. Built for Mac, Windows, and Linux, you need a Gaia profile to start playing around with it.