Firefox and Google Chrome hurting Internet Explorer

Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) again lost a big chunk of market share last month as Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome continued to chip away at the world's dominant browser, according to Net Applications, a web metrics company.

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Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) again lost a big chunk of market share last month as Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome continued to chip away at the world's dominant browser, according to Net Applications, a web metrics company.

IE plummeted by 1.3 percentage points in September, falling to 65.7%, its lowest level ever recorded and the largest one-month drop in almost a year, said Net Applications.

In the last 12 months, IE has lost 8.5 percentage points and has dropped 2.6 points in the last three months alone. Unless Microsoft is able to stem the slide, its browser will slip under the 50% mark in the next two years.

As has been the trend of late, IE's pain has been Firefox's and Chrome's gain.

Mozilla's browser surged by 0.8 of a percentage point, the biggest single-month gain since November 2008, to account for 23.8% of the browser market. Firefox has still not recovered, however, from a share downturn during May and June 2009, and has yet to equal the record set in April of 23.84%. It should pass that mark next month if it continues at the pace it has set in the last 12 months.

Chrome, meanwhile, posted another record gain during September, increasing its share by 0.3 of a percentage point to end the month at 3.2%. In the last three months, Chrome's share has increased by nearly 0.8 of a percentage point, more than half the gains by Mozilla during the same period.

Safari, however, seems stalled, boosting its market share slightly to 4.2%. Apple's browser has gained just 0.45 of a percentage point in the last three months, about one-third as much as Firefox has grown in the same span and a little more than half that of Chrome's increase.

With the vast bulk of Safari's users on Macs, Safari for Windows accounted for less than a third of a percentage point last month. Apple's browser gains are directly linked to Mac sales.

Opera Software's Opera accounted for 2.2%, growing by 0.15 of a percentage point, the Norwegian browser's largest single-month gain since January 2008.

Factors that may affect future share rankings include Google's recent release of Chrome Frame, a plug-in for IE that lets websites trigger the use of Chrome's WebKit rendering engine and its V8 JavaScript engine. When IE uses Chrome Frame, sites identify it as IE, but add a Chrome Frame tag that could let analytics firms like Net Applications spot the use of the Chrome rendering engine.

It's unknown whether Net Applications will actually do that, however. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Net Applications measures browser usage by tracking the machines that surf to the 40,000 sites it monitors for clients, which results in a data pool of about 160 million unique visitors per month.

September's browser data can be found on Net Applications' site.

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