Just as the browser wars looked as if they were fading, a spate of new releases has re-ignited them. And this time Internet Explorer is losing ground rapidly to its opponents. Since January this year the Internet Explorer family of browsers have lost more than 17% market share according to analysts StatCounter.
Last month Apple released its Safari 4 browser and this month Firefox 3.5 was released which has been downloaded more than 19 million times already. Earlier, in March, Microsoft released its latest browser in the form of Internet Explorer 8 which is already showing good uptake, although not enough to keep Internet Explorer on a positive growth curve.
According to StatCounter, the Internet Explorer family of browsers held a combined market share of 73.5% in January 2009. Beta versions of IE8 accounted for 1% of that total and IE6 and IE7 held 19.3% and 53.2% respectively. In comparison Firefox 3 held 16.6% and Firefox 2 a 2.5% share.
At the end of June, Internet Explorer’s total share had dropped to 55.7%, despite a healthy increase in IE8 use. A 22% decline in market share for IE7 over the six months suggests that Microsoft has been quite successful in migrating users to its newer IE8 browser, although clearly not all IE7 users have jumped to IE8. Many of them appear to have migrated to the Firefox 3 browser which showed a very healthy 10.2% increase in market share between January and June 2009. At the start of July Firefox 3 had 26.8% market share, just slightly less than IE7’s 30.8% share.
Until its release in March, IE8 beta versions accounted for 1% share. On its release the browser quickly climbed through the 5% and 10% marks to reach 14.4% share by the end of June.
Good news for web developers is that while IE6 is still very much in evidence with 9% market share at the end of June, its profile is definitely on the decline. The browser, which has stubbornly held onto its position in the market despite being eight years old, slipped by a significant 10% over the first six months of this year, down from 19.2% in January. Internet Explorer is widely disliked by web developers for its particular implementation of HTML rendering which is significantly different to established web standards. Internet Explorer 7 made some headway in rectifying this and IE8 is Microsoft’s most standards-compatible browser to date. Nevertheless IE6 continues to be a significant player in the market and developers still need to cater for it to make their content available to as wide an audience as possible.
One of the big gainers in the StatCounter data is the “other” category which increased from just 2% in January 2009 to 12.8% at the end of June. This category encompasses the likes of Chrome 2.0, Firefox 3.5 and Safari 4 which are not included in the June numbers. Once those numbers become available there is a good chance that Internet Explorer will look even worse off.
IE versus Firefox discussion