I used to think Mozilla's Firefox browser posed the most serious threat to Internet Explorer's dominance in the browser wars, and for a long while, it did. IE's numbers were falling and Firefox's were climbing, but then Chrome joined the battle. A funny thing happened at that point. Firefox, once the most beloved browser by users 'in the know,' took a backseat to Chrome's rapid rise, and now it's anyone's guess what the next year or so will bring. Let's have a look where things stand.
As September came to a close, NetMarketShare has IE out in front with a 53.63 percent of the global browser market, followed by Firefox at 20.08 percent and Chrome at 18.86 percent. In that past two years, that represents a 7.36 percent decline for IE, 3.47 percent decline for Firefox, and a 10.1 percent rise for Chrome. Based on those figures alone, it would appear Chrome is on pace to win the browser wars, first by jumping ahead of Firefox relatively soon, and then by eventually unseating IE.
A closer look at the numbers reveals a different situation entirely. For past 12 months, Chrome's share of the browser market has averaged 18.80 percent, or almost exactly where it's at today, according to NetMarketShare's data. Meanwhile, Firefox has averaged 20.75 percent, which isn't much higher than where it's at today, and IE has averaged 53.34 percent, also pretty close to where it's at today. It would appear, then, that the browser market share among the big 3 has plateaued. If that's the case, then like it or not, IE might always be the most popular browser on the planet, even if not the best option. Or maybe not.
If we direct our attention to StatCounter's data, Chrome is in first place with a 34.21 percent share of the market, followed by IE at 32.7 percent and Firefox off in a distant third place with a 22.4 percent share. Looking at StatCounter's line graph, Chrome is still on the rise and IE appears to have leveled out, while Firefox is slowly trending downwards.
Talk about confusing. The discrepancy in data has to do with how each firm analyzes browser usage. StatCounter compiles its data based on page views from 3 million websites, while NetMarketShare adds up the number of daily unique visitors from a collection of 40,000 websites.
Is one method better than the other? That's up for debate. The only thing we can say with certainty is that trying to analyze and ultimately decipher the browser wars is a fool's errand.