Whereas in January Chrome accounted for 18.94 percent, that figure fell slightly to 18.90 percent in February, the latest data shows. As for Firefox, it inched forward from 20.88 percent to 20.92 percent over the same time period.
Chrome’s January figure also showed a decline from December, when it was at 19.11 percent.
Internet Explorer, meanwhile–which is still the leader–fell from 52.96 percent to 52.84 percent between January and February, Net Applications says.
A Self-Imposed Penalty
Now, these are obviously pretty small changes, so it’s dangerous to read too much into them. Then, too, there’s the fact that rival researcher StatCounter has already declared Chrome’s victory.
What’s particularly interesting, though, is that in addition to any natural shifts there may be going on in usage, there are also a few external factors affecting the data.
First is the self-imposed 60-day penalty Google placed on Chrome rankings in early January following a controversy over a marketing campaign that apparently artificially inflated its results via paid links, the use of which violates Google’s own rules.
Along with that penalty came a halt in Chrome’s upward trend, Net Applications asserts.
The other factor at work here is the prerendering feature Google recently added to Chrome. The Chrome browser is now the only major desktop contender to offer this feature, “which creates unviewed visits that should not be counted in Chrome’s usage share,” Net Applications notes.
Users don’t always go on to actually view the pages that are prerendered, in other words.
In February 2012 prerendering accounted for 4.3 percent of Chrome’s daily unique visitors, says Net Applications, which has announced that from now on it excludes those false visits from Chrome’s desktop browser share.
Holding Steady at No. 2
So is Chrome’s recent loss–however small–due entirely to Google’s ranking penalty and Net Application’s adjustment for prerendering? Could be–but it’s not entirely clear.
Meanwhile, for the time being at least, Firefox is still hanging in there.
Computerworld Australia - The browser world turned upside down last month as Internet Explorer’s share jumped by its largest-ever increase and Chrome posted its biggest one-month loss, a Web metrics company said today.
Net Applications, which measures browser usage by collating data from some 40,000 sites, attributed the turnabout to Google’s self-imposed punishment last month when it downgraded Chrome’s search ranking.
Google demoted the PageRank — the rating Google assigns based on how many other sites link to a URL — for Chrome’s download site after it admitted a marketing campaign had violated the company’s own rules against paid links.
Net Applications drew a line between the penalty and Chrome’s drop last month, as well as Internet Explorer’s (IE) climb. “In January, the upward trend for Chrome halted and Chrome lost [a] 0.17 [percentage point] share on the desktop. Internet Explorer gained 1.1 [point],” said the California company on its website.
Under that theory, by demoting the search ranking of Chrome’s download site, Google made it more difficult for users to find, then install the browser.
Chrome ended January with a 18.9% share, down from the previous month’s 19.1%. The drop was Chrome’s largest since Google launched the browser in September 2008.
Meanwhile, IE boosted its usage share by 1.1 percentage points to close January with a 53% share, a reversal of the long-running trend where Microsoft’s browser has consistently lost ground. IE’s boost was its largest-ever, according to Net Applications’ tracking, and returns the browser to the share it last held in October 2011.
As it has in the past, Microsoft today boasted of IE9′s improvement on Windows 7, saying that that edition reached a 36.2% share in the U.S. on the newest version of Windows. It did not comment on the increase of IE overall.
Microsoft has repeatedly said the IE9-on-Windows 7 is the only metric that matters.
According to Net Applications, IE9 climbed by less than two-tenths of a percentage point worldwide on all operating systems, grabbing a 11.6% share.
All of Microsoft’s older browsers — IE8, IE7, even the decade-old IE6 — also showed gains last month in Net Applications’ data. For example, IE6, which Microsoft has been trying to kill for several years, posted an increase of six-tenths of a point to end the month with a 7.9% share.
Unlike IE and Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari did not deviate from their usual performance: Firefox lost nearly a full percentage point, posting a share of 20.8%, its smallest share since October 2008, while Safari fell by less than one-tenth of a point to 4.9%.
The against-the-grain movements tossed some earlier predictions into disarray. Chrome’s January decline, for instance, means that at the current pace, it won’t replace Firefox as the second-most-used browser until May. That’s two months later than a forecast made last month.
But while Net Applications’ data told an abnormal story for January, rival metrics firms’ take was mixed.
Irish measurement company StatCounter said that IE dropped by 1.2 points to end the month with 37.5%, while Chrome gained 1.1 points to account for 28.4% of all browsers in use.
But Chitika, which mined its ad-serving network for browser usage data, agreed with Net Applications, saying that IE’s share grew by 5.6 points to 60.8%, with Chrome falling 2.2 points to 15.3%.
Net Applications calculates browser usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 Web sites that the company monitors. More browser statistics can be found on the company’s site.