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02 Mar 12 Chrome’s Rise Slowed in New Browser Wars

For months, it had seemed that the inexorable rise of Google Chrome would see it push the Firefox browser into third place. It remains a long way away from challenging Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which with over half the global market remains firmly at the top.

But for the last three months, Chrome’s percentage has dipped slightly while Firefox’s has risen, although the figures really do not show much more than a standstill for both. That still leaves Chrome, perhaps surprisingly, in third place.

Ars Technica looks at the figures to see why Chrome may have lost its shine:

Across the board, the changes were small. Internet Explorer dropped 0.12 points to 52.84 percent, Firefox gained 0.04 points to 20.92 percent, and Chrome lost the same amount, 0.04 points, to 18.90 percent. Safari saw the biggest swing, gaining 0.34 points to 5.24 percent. Opera also gained slightly, picking up 0.04 points for a total of 1.71 percent.

This means that Firefox is retaining a slender lead over Google’s browser. Last month we speculated that the halt in Chrome’s growth might be related to Google’s decision to penalize Chrome’s positioning in its search results due to an advertising campaign that contravened Google’s rules. The sixty day penalty will expire in the next few days, restoring Chrome’s prominent positioning in Google searches.

Another factor is that the source we use, Net Applications’ Net Market Share, has slightly altered the way it counts Chrome hits. Since version 13, Chrome has had a “prerendering” feature, in which it speculatively renders pages linked from the current one, so that if the user clicks one of those links, it will be able to show the destination page more quickly. In Chrome 17, this has been extended to even include pages indirectly referenced from search queries entered in the address box.

This pre-rendering tends to inflate the raw hit counts of Chrome users; visits are apparently made to sites even if the user never actually sees the resulting page. Net Applications estimates that about 4.3 percent of all Chrome hits on websites are due to this pre-rendering. The company is changing its tracker so that in future only pages that are actually seen by the user are counted, using an API offered by Google to detect the page’s visibility…

Ars Technica: Browsing behavior in February: Internet Explorer and Chrome down, Firefox up

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