Web browsers continued to play a game of thrones last month, but which one took the Internet crown?
Who is king seems up for debate: StatCounter placed Google Chrome at the top of the heap in May, the first time the browser dominated for a full calendar month. Net Applications, however, still had IE as the top browser, followed by Firefox and Chrome.
For May, StatCounter’s data showed more than 15 billion Internet page views Chrome took 32.43 percent of the worldwide market, compared to 32.12 percent for IE, and 25.55 percent for Firefox.
But Chrome is ringing in June with a barely there global edge on IE, according to StatCounter, which reported that a 0.6 percent switch from IE to Firefox helped push Chrome into first place. May’s Chrome update to the new, stable version of the Google browser is likely a contributing factor, as well.
Net Applications, meanwhile, showed Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome neck-and-neck, separated for second and third places, respectively, by 0.13 percent. IE still reigned supreme at 54.05 percent global market share, according to the site.
In the U.S., Net Applications calculated the Microsoft browser at 56.13 percent for May, while Firefox and Chrome lagged behind with 16.78 percent and 14.48 percent, respectively.
The vast difference in the numbers from Net Applications and StatCounter are primarily due to the use of unique visitors instead of page views, Net Applications spokesman Vince Vizzaccaro wrote in an email.
He indicated that country-level weighting is likely the biggest factor, adding that IE has a very strong market share in the U.S. and China, which carry the largest bases of Internet users.
The fight between stat counters doesn’t mean much to Google, though.
During the D10 expo, Chrome’s senior vice president, Sundar Pichai, said that the browser grew about 300 percent last year, with “hundreds of millions of active users,” according to Engadget.
“We have many ways of looking at it,” he said. “You can argue about the data, but in general I think we have gained substantial mindshare since we’ve launched the product.”
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Google Chrome edged Mozilla Firefox last month to take the number two spot in the browser popularity wars, according to an Irish metrics company.
Data from StatCounter, which tracks browser usage through the free analytics tools it offers websites, had Chrome with a 25.7% global share in November, slightly higher than Firefox at 25.2%.
In September, Computerworld used StatCounter’s numbers to project that Chrome would pass Firefox no later than December 2011.
According to StatCounter, Chrome has gained 10.8% of usage share this year alone, vacuuming up nearly all the losses posted by Firefox (5.5%) and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (6.3%).
Internet Explorer (IE) accounted for 40.6% of all browsers used last month, StatCounter said.
Rival Web measurement firm Net Applications saw the Chrome vs Firefox tussle differently. Its tracking put Chrome behind Firefox in November, controlling 18.2% of the market compared to Firefox’s 22.1%.
But if both browsers keep to their recent trends in Net Applications’ accounting, Chrome will pass Firefox in April or May 2012 to slip into second place behind IE. By that time, IE’s share will have fallen to 47%-49%.
Both StatCounter and Net Applications noted an anomaly last month: IE either gained usage share or held stable.
Net Applications, for example, had IE holding steady at 52.6%, the same as in October, while StatCounter said IE had boosted its share by 0.4% to 40.6%.
IE typically loses users each month in both company’s eyes, some times in large amounts: In October, Net Applications said IE had posted a 1.8% decline, while StatCounter had IE down 1.5% that month.
Vince Vizzaccaro, vice president of marketing for Net Applications, did not have an explanation, only a suspicion, for the turn-around. “We believe there may be some anomalous data from last month,” Vizzaccaro said.
If the data holds up, IE’s turn-around from its precipitous decline in October will have been remarkable.
Microsoft did not address that today, but instead beat the IE9-on-Windows 7 drum one more time, citing Net Applications’ claim that globally the browser is now more popular than either Chrome or Firefox on Windows 7.
IE9 on Windows 7 passed rivals in the US months ago.
Among individual editions of IE and figuring in all operating systems, Net Applications still had IE9 in second place behind IE8, with the former posting a 10.3% worldwide share and the latter 28.2%.
But IE6 – the browser Microsoft has been trying to kill for the last two years – got a reprieve of sorts in November, boosting its share by half a point to 8%. Previously, IE6 had had a years-long string of losses.
StatCounter’s take was at odds with its US rival: The Irish company said IE6′s share had dropped nearly 0.3% to 2.2%, a decline in its usual ballpark over the last year.
Apple’s Safari – the clear No. 4 browser – remained flat (StatCounter) or lost share (Net Applications), during November. According to Net Applications, Safari fell four-tenths of a percentage point to end the month at 5%, essentially back at its September position.