Chrome has moved past Firefox to become the world’s second-most popular Web browser after Internet Explorer, according to StatCounter. Chrome grabbed a 25.69 percent share of the global browser market in November — a major increase from the 4.66 market share it held two years earlier, the Dublin, Ireland-based Web metrics firm said Thursday.
In the United States, IE currently holds a 50.66 percent market share, a slight increase from one year earlier. By contrast, Firefox usage among U.S Web users is 20.1 percent — down from 26.75 percent in the same month last year, StatCounter said.
Google‘s popular browser — which held a 17.3 percent share of the U.S market at the end of November — is clearly benefiting from Firefox’s slide. At the beginning of 2011, only 10.9 percent of all U.S.-based Web users were using Chrome.
“We can look forward to a fascinating battle between Microsoft and Google as the pace of growth of Chrome suggests that it will become a real rival to Internet Explorer globally,” said StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen Thursday.
Stalled Firefox Growth
On a global basis, however, Chrome’s gain of 7.5 percentage points in browser market share during 2011 has come at Microsoft’s expense, primarily.
However, the latest data from Net Applications shows Firefox has also lost 1.5 percentage points on the desktop so far this year. Net Applications shows that IE’s global market share, which stood at 52.6 percent at the beginning of December, has fallen by more than 6 percentage points this year.
Unlike StatCounter, the U.S.-based Web metric firm still shows Firefox in second place with a 25.7 percent global market share, followed by Chrome at 18.2 percent.
Despite Mozilla’s decision earlier this year to emulate Chrome by introducing more frequent and more automated browser updates, the growth rate for Firefox has stalled.
The shorter development cycles for Firefox may be attractive to individual users but in the enterprise space it usually takes a while for corporations to accept and implement software changes, noted Net Applications Vice President Vincent Vizzaccaro.
In fact, the shorter development cycles for Firefox may even be inhibiting the browser’s enterprise growth, Vizzaccaro said. This may especially be the case “if older versions are not supported for a long period of time,” Vizzaccaro added.
An Opportunity For Microsoft
StatCounter currently pegs IE’s global market share at 40.6 percent, while Net Applications reports that 52.6 percent of the world’s desktop PCs and laptops are running a version of IE. The big difference between the two firms’ statistics is due in part to recent changes in the way that Net Applications calculates browser market share.
According to the U.S.-based firm, mobile devices now account for 6.7 percent of all browsing activities worldwide. Apple’s Safari browser currently leads the pack with a 55 percent share of the global mobile browser market, followed by Opera Mini at 20.1 percent and Google’s Android browser at 16.4 percent.
Microsoft sees an excellent opportunity ahead for the company to reclaim a substantial number of browser users worldwide through the release of its next-generation operating system. The software giant believes that many users who already have Windows running on their PCs, laptops and netbooks will see the advantage of having the same OS running on their media tablets.
Though Windows-based tablets have not been a hit to date, Microsoft believes that many customers, especially business clients, will find the cross-platform design of Windows 8 attractive enough to adopt compatible media tablets when the new OS is ready for launch next year. If Microsoft’s strategy succeeds, IE usage will also grow as well — especially among business users at enterprises where IE is currently the browser of choice.