Declaring a Winner in the Browser Wars is Complicated

Paul Lilly

The industry needs a better way to survey software

Now that January is in the rear view mirror, we're presented with our first opportunity to see which browsers are off to a promising start in 2014 and which ones are destined to be also-rans. The problem with attempting to do so is the lack of reliable data. To show you what we mean, let's first look at data from NetApplications, which has Internet Explorer in a dominant position with a 58.21 percent share of the browser market . Looking at the numbers, IE is pretty much untouchable.

Two years ago, IE accounted for around 53 percent of the browser market, according to NetApplications , which relies heavily on data provided by its HitsLink network. In that same time period, Firefox's share has decreased from around 21 percent to just over 18 percent. Chrome has also gone down in the past two years -- it closed out January with a 16.28 percent of the browser market compared to around 19 percent two years ago. Based on these figures, it's clear that IE has won, having fended off the best efforts of Google and Mozilla.

This is where things get complicated. If we direct our attention to StatCounter , which relies on tracking code installed on more than 3 million sites around the world representing billions of page views, then Chrome is suddenly the untouchable one with a commanding 43.67 share of the browser market, up from 28.4 percent two years ago. In that same time, IE dropped from 37.45 percent and first place to 22.85 percent for a distant second place finish just ahead of Firefox at 18.9 percent. So much for declaring IE the clear winner.

Yet another source of browser market share is W3Counter , which generates its data based on the last 15,00 pages views to each of the more than 71,000 websites it tracks. According to W3Counter, Chrome is on top with a 34.1 percent share of the browser market, followed by Internet Explorer at 20.3 percent and Firefox at 18.3 percent. W3Counter's rankings are the same at StatCounter's, but the figures are pretty far part.

So that's what the various browser bean counters have come up with for the first month of 2014. What about you -- which browser is your favorite these days?

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