The change to preserve placeholder text on focus in the recent Firefox 15 release confused me the first time I saw it. I actually thought the field was disabled. In Firefox, the default styling (text color) of placeholder vs. disabled is very similar, and unlike Chrome, there isn't a default focus highlight, so the main indication that the field is editable is the cursor which can be easy to miss. When you can't highlight or delete the text that's in your way, your first instinct if you're unfamiliar with the UI convention is not necessarily to start typing anyway.
Although there are some good practical arguments for preserving the text on focus, there's also a lot of precedent (at least in Windows) for the opposite behavior. One commenter pointed out that the search box in the Windows start menu works this way, and Firefox itself has several UI fields that clear on focus. The Windows start menu is actually an example of a hybrid approach. Its search box is initially focused and displays the text by default, but when the user manually focuses it, the text is cleared. I prefer this sort of compromise from a usability standpoint.
In an HTML environment, however, clean mapping to CSS (if only for override hacks) is also important, and there isn't a selector for auto-focus vs. user-focus. And at this point, all the browser vendors seem to be in rare agreement, so it's a bit late to be complaining. Perhaps a simpler compromise in Firefox would have been to add a default focus style for placeholder text that faded the placeholder text more on focus so the user had stronger feedback that the field could accept their typing even though there was still placeholder text in the way.
Setting aside implementation concerns in a particular browser, my preference in general remains to hide on focus. Although a large part of it is that it's simply what I'm accustomed to, I think there's also a fundamental aversion to trying to write in a space that's not already blank. Experience with handwriting, typing (with a typewriter!) and computing has taught me that if there's already text there, I need to do something about it first. I instinctively prefer a blank canvas before I start. I can adapt to the preserve on focus pattern, but I think it's going to be difficult to feel entirely comfortable with it unless there's more of a sense of the placeholder text getting out of the way when I focus the field for editing.