A Change of Direction in the Race for Browser Market Share?
Written by Janet Swift   
Sunday, 12 February 2012

Has Internet Explorer really halted its long-term downward trend and taken share from both Firefox and Chrome in the first month of 2012?

A headline that caught my eye last week read: "Internet Explorer snagged market share from both Chrome and Firefox in January". TNW's article went on to express surprise at the fact that Microsoft's browsers had actually gained over a percentage point of market share.

The figures quoted came from Net Applications and were that IE's share had increased by +1.09% while both its arch rivals had experienced a decrease, Chrome by -0.17% and Firefox by -0.95%.

 

(click in chart to enlarge)

browersline

 

Inspecting the line chart of  the past twelve months, the major trend still seems to be Chrome gaining share viv-a-vis Firefox, which does indeed seem to be in decline. IE's gain during January is just evident and is in contrast to its steep decline in the early part of 2011. 

Concentrating on just the past three months using the same source of statistics, the main message seems to be that there is little change in overall shares and IE still holds sway.

 

(click in chart to enlarge)browsers

 

Microsoft's main browser-related story for January was that the proportion of IE 6 usage had dropped to below 1% in the US, which it celebrated as a victory in its campaign to eradicate IE 6 usage. The Internet Explorer blog did however pick up on the fact that IE9 continued to outstrip IE8, as shown in this chart:

(click in chart to enlarge)

windows7browser

 

Roger Capriotti's  blog post referred to "HTML5 experiences like Cut the Rope" as a reason for the increased adoption of IE9 and pointed out:

In the US [on Windows 7], IE9 picked up almost two points of share, hitting 36.2% usage share in January.

Turning to the latest Global Stats chart produced by rival browser watcher, StatCounter, the overall shape of the annual trend is similar, but can you spot two striking differences?

 

(click in chart to enlarge)

statcounter

 

According to StatCounter, Chrome usage has outstripped already Firefox already while Net Application's figures suggest this hasn't happened yet but soon will. StatCounter also puts IE's share considerably lower overall while Net Applications still shows IE having more than half of entire market share.

 

ie9share

These differences in the two sets of statistics should reinforce the obvious - that you can't read much into such small changes in market share statistics. Are Firefox and IE declining in popularity while Chrome is gaining users - almost certainly. The long term trends are clear enough but small variations in one month's figures are not reliable enough to draw conclusions.

More Information

Desktop Top Browser Share Trend

IE9 Top Browser on Windows 7 and Other Highlights from 2011

StatCounter Top 5 Browsers Jan 2011 to Jan 2012

 

Related Articles

Microsoft's campaign to rid world of IE6

Internet Explorer loses market share

Chrome 15 - World's Most Popular Browser

Internet Explorer has less than 50% of the market

 

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