After months of consistent declines in overall market share, Internet Explorer had an overall gain in May, but only in the United States. The latest browser market share trends show that Internet Explorer continues to reverse its losses and make gains in market share--this time globally. More specifically, Internet Explorer 8 is leading all competitors and gained more than three times as much as Google Chrome.
Broken down by browser version, Internet Explorer occupies three of the top four market share positions--with Internet Explorer 8 leading the way. Internet Explorer 8 market share grew .66 percent over last month to 25.84 percent of the market. Internet Explorer 6, unfortunately, is still the number two browser with 17.17 percent, while Internet Explorer 7 is in fourth behind Firefox 3.6 with 11.79 percent of the market.
Combining all versions of Internet Explorer together, the overall market share for the Microsoft Web browser grew from 59.75 percent to 60.32 percent. The gains came primarily at the expense of Firefox, which dropped .51 percent. Chrome had a slight gain of .2 percent, but still drags in with only an eighth of the market share of Internet Explorer.
Ryan Gavin, senior director of Internet Explorer business and marketing for Microsoft, elaborates on the Net Applications browser statistics in an Exploring IE blog post. "In June, Net Applications shows overall Internet Explorer share growing by 0.57% worldwide. Internet Explorer 8 share continues to be the fastest growing browser with a 0.66% increase in share, more than 3 times the growth of Google Chrome, while Firefox share declined."
Other than bragging rights, is any of this even relevant? As companies explore the myriad of browser options available, there is something to be said for going with the flow and choosing the browser with nearly two-thirds of the market.
Despite claims by Web development purists and Microsoft bashers that Internet Explorer doesn't follow accepted Web standards and conventions, when a browser dominates the marketplace the way Internet Explorer does, it more or less dictates the standards.
To Microsoft's credit, though, it does try to work with the established Web standards. Development of IE9 is underway, and Microsoft is working to embrace HTML5, and font-rendering standards, as well as striving to improve the performance of Internet Explorer on accepted Web browser tests like Acid3.
Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and other Web browsers are all equally capable of surfing the vast majority of the Web. However, as developers create custom apps and add-ons to extend the functionality of a given browser, or provide additional interactivity and expand the Web-surfing experience, they are more likely to invest that time and effort developing for the platform that has two-thirds of the market.
The reality is that malware attackers may also target Internet Explorer for the same reason--larger pool of potential victims. However, many Web-based attacks tend not to be browser-specific, and recent testing has demonstrated that Internet Explorer 8 actually beats all competitors in guarding against Web-based socially engineered malware attacks.
Given the vast variety of browsers out there today, I doubt we'll ever see Internet Explorer return to its virtual monopoly glory days of 90-plus percent market share. But, the reversal of fortune over the past couple of months demonstrates that Internet Explorer is also not going to just slowly die away.