Chrome Marches On While IE Continues Downward Spiral

Net Applications has released the browser market share data for the month of May. It looks like more good news for Chrome, and more bad news for Internet Explorer.

During the month of May, Chrome gained another 0.58 percentage points to reach 12.52 percent market share and strengthen its position as the third place browser overall. Safari also continues its upward trend with a 0.13 percentage point gain, and Firefox rebounded slightly with a 0.08 percentage point gain. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer dropped nearly a percentage point to 54.27 percent.

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Chrome steadily gains ground, while IE market share keeps slipping.
Behind the Firefox numbers, there has also been a changing of the guard for which version is the dominant release of Firefox. Firefox 3.6 dropped from 13.52 percent to 9.14 percent in one month. At the same time, Firefox 4 nearly doubled from 5.43 percent to 10.08 percent--jumping up to take the slot for third place browser version ahead of Chrome 11, and behind Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 6. Of course, Firefox 5 is expected later this month and that will start the whole rinse and repeat cycle over again.

The decline of legacy versions of Internet Explorer is another story that continues to drive market share numbers. A Microsoft spokesperson told me, "IE6 and IE7 share saw a healthy decline this month (worldwide usage share is down almost a full point), thanks to support from nearly 600 partners who have joined the cause to move their friends to a more modern browser."

Unfortunately for Microsoft, as IE6 and IE7 drop, so does the overall market share for Internet Explorer. The numbers indicate that the kill IE6 campaign is working, but that users are looking to alternative browsers rather than just upgrading to a newer version of Internet Explorer. Microsoft's decision to limit IE9 to Windows Vista and Windows 7 may be partly responsible for pushing users away.

I know it drives some people crazy, but if you view the numbers through a Windows 7 filter, Internet Explorer 9 is actually kicking ass. Measured just as a function of Windows 7, IE9 has 12.2 percent market share worldwide and 17 percent in the United States.

That may offer little solace as Internet Explorer numbers overall continue to dwindle and precariously approach dropping below 50 percent, but it is something. Microsoft has put all of its chips on the table--going all-in on its vision for the future of the Web, and the level of integration necessary between the OS, the system hardware, and the browser in order to deliver the experience Microsoft has in mind.

Only time will tell if that gamble will pay off.

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