Enid Burns for RedOrbit
The Google Chrome user base continues to grow, and according to data collected by StatCounter, it now exceeds the user base of Internet Explorer by a few percent. Over the past year Google’s open source browser has made a steady climb from about 20 percent of the market to somewhere around 33 percent. Meanwhile, Chrome users passed Firefox toward the end of last year, and Explorer just last week.
“This has been a two browser market going back to Netscape,” said Rob Enderly, principal analyst of the Enderly Group. Enderly said control of the browser market is “more critical to Microsoft than Google.”
StatCounter collects browser data worldwide, determining which browser is in use across a wide collection of page views. Data show that Firefox, which spent several years challenging Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, has been on a gradual decline over the past year. Mozilla’s open source browser, Firefox, held 29 percent of the market in terms of its user base the week of May 16 to 22. Now in 2012, the week of May 14 to 20, Firefox registers 25 percent, a few percent down from a comparable week a year ago. Internet Explorer has also been on a decline, but is losing market share at a faster rate. Microsoft’s browser held 44 percent of the market in the same week last year -the week between May 16 and 22 last year. This year the week between May 14 and 20, Internet Explorer holds roughly 32 percent of the market.
“Both Google and Microsoft have been marketing their browsers very heavily,” said Enderly. Firefox also gets a lot of its money from Google.”
The decline of Mozilla’s Firefox is one with a difficult recovery. “It is going to be a daunting task for Firefox to get back in the game” Enderly said. “Firefox was the up-and-comer but the user base is moving to Google Chrome. So Firefox has been swimming upstream.”
The growth of Google Chrome covers more ground to reach the top. Chrome sat at just about 20 percent of the market the week of May 16 and 22 in 2011. The comparable week this year, May 14 to 20, Chrome holds about 33 percent of browser activity. Chrome actually gained its lead during the week of May 7 to 13; the Google Chrome browser hit 32.29 percent when during the same week Internet Explorer dipped below that volume.
Just before Google Chrome overtook Internet Explorer, StatCounter changed its recording methods. A note in the chart states” “Prerendering Adjustment: Further to a significant number of user requests, we are now adjusting our browser stats to remove the effective prerendering in Google Chrome. From 1 May 2012, prerendered pages (which are not actually viewed) are not included in our stats. More information on this is available in our FAQ. Prerendering is a feature Google added to Chrome in June last year. It gets pages ready to load from the search page so they appear instantly when a user clicks on the search result. One would think that taking out prerendered pages might bring Chrome’s numbers down, but the browser remained steady after the adjustment.
A look at the daily data from StatCounter shows that Chrome has gained brief leads over Explorer in the past few months. Between March and the current numbers in May, Google Chrome passed Microsoft Internet Explorer in market share briefly at least eight times. This indicates that the two browsers may have their ups and downs and continue to take slight leads over each other for the next few months before one gains a clear lead over the other.
“Whoever controls the browser controls the statement of power,” Enderly said.