Internet Explorer is gaining back some lost ground in the browser market share battle. According to Net Applications, IE has reclaimed nearly two percentage points over the past three months--jumping almost a full percentage point just this month. What’s more interesting, is that Microsoft’s browser took a little share from every other browser out there to make up that percentage point gain.
Chrome has been sliding for months now. It’s not enough to declare it a free fall, but consistently losing market share for three straight months should be cause for concern for the Google browser.
Firefox, on the other hand, was up in February, but down again in March. It has been down more often than up for the last year, though, and it has lost more than two percentage points of market share while Chrome has rocketed up more than seven--so clearly Firefox has more cause for alarm.
The lion’s share of Chrome’s meteoric rise, however, came at the expense of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. IE is down 5.39 percentage points overall from a year ago.
The precipitous decline was more a function of decisions by Microsoft, though, than it was a reflection of Chrome as a browser. Chrome just happened to be the primary benefactor of the fallout of Microsoft’s tactics.
First, Microsoft has been aggressively pushing for the death of Internet Explorer 6. The archaic browser is simply not capable of rendering the Web of today. Atempts to provide backwards compatibility to support users on IE6 has been holding sites back from pushing the envelope and delivering features and experiences that IE6 can’t handle. IE6 is also a serious security risk for its users and everyone who shares the Web with them.
Couple that with Microsoft’s decision to make Internet Explorer 9 available only for Windows Vista and Windows 7--while Windows XP still makes up most of Microsoft’s desktop market share. The line in the sand with IE9, combined with the push to get users off of IE6 left many customers with no choice but to look at alternative browsers.
The IE9 gamble seems to be paying off over time, though. As Windows 7 takes market share away from Windows XP, IE9 is also growing in usage and reclaiming some of the lost market share.
Some of the IE9 share is cannibalized directly from IE8. But, IE8 has lost only two percentage points of market share over the past couple months, while IE9 has jumped more than three and a half. As long as IE9 is climbing faster than IE8 is falling, it’s a good thing for Microsoft and drives the overall share for Internet Explorer up.
Although Microsoft isn’t known for its marketing prowess, its recent campaigns around Internet Explorer 9 are probably contributing factors to the rise of IE as well. The “Browser You Love to Hate” site was popular, and the “More Beautiful Web” TV ads seem to be everywhere.
Whatever the reason, Internet Explorer is up 0.99 percentage points over last month, and if you add up the losses from every other browser it coincidentally comes to 0.99 percent. When every other browser is down, and all of the losses are Internet Explorer’s gains, it means Microsoft is doing something right.