Web analytics company Net Applications today changed its May numbers from those posted overnight, and now has Google's Chrome still in third place, albeit barely behind Mozilla's Firefox.
Earlier today, the California-based firm had published data that showed Chrome had passed Firefox for the first time, fueled by an increase of 1.3 percentage points to 20.2%. Meanwhile, Net Applications' preliminary numbers had Firefox falling six-tenths of a point to 19.6%.
The spot swapping came as a surprise: Earlier projections by Computerworld had pointed to a delay in Chrome's capture of second place, perhaps to as late as August.
Later Friday, Net Applications revised its numbers.
According to the company, Chrome actually accounted for 19.6% of all browsers used in May, an increase of seven-tenths of a point. Firefox's revised share of 19.7% was a half-point lower than the previous month.
It was the first time that Firefox fell under the 20% mark in Net Applications' tracking since October 2008.
But even though Net Applications modified its opening browser share numbers to keep Firefox in second, the writing is clearly on the wall: By all trends in the vendor's data, Chrome will slip by Firefox and actually snare second place some time this month.
If Firefox's losses remain on the tempo of the last 12 months, Mozilla's browser share will have shrunk to about 18% by the end of 2012, while Chrome's will have climbed above 23%.
Net Applications was, if only for several hours, the second major metric company to track Chrome's run to second. In November 2011, Irish measurement vendor StatCounter said Chrome had passed Firefox in its estimates.
May was flat for Microsoft in Net Applications' new numbers, although overnight the data had pointed to a half-point loss by Internet Explorer (IE) to end the month at 53.6%. After Net Applications' revisions, IE accounted for 54.1% of all browsers used worldwide last month, essentially the same as in April.
Within the IE family, IE9 continued its ascent, adding 1.1 percentage points to account for 17% of all browsers on all operating systems. IE8 also posted positive, boosting its share by seven-tenths of point to 26.9%.
The other editions -- 2006's IE7 and the 11-year-old IE6 -- lost share in May. IE6, the version Microsoft wants to disappear, lost nearly a point, falling to 6.2%, a record low in Net Applications' tracking. IE7 shed seven-tenths of a percentage point to drop to 3.4%, also a record.
While the shift toward IE9 can be attributed to the increasing uptake of Windows 7, IE8's recent rebound is harder to explain. The latter browser has grown its share in four of the first five months of the year compared to only two such months during all of 2011.