Firefox use growing around the world, study says
But fluctuations arise as users try new browsers
Computerworld - After a brief period of little growth this spring, The Mozilla Foundation's open-source Firefox Web browser is again gaining ground on Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer (IE) (See also Visual Tour: What's New in Firefox 2.0.)
In its latest study on Web browser usage, Netherlands-based OneStat.com said Sunday that Firefox gained 1.14% in June and is now used by 12.93% of surfers. That's up from 11.79% who used Firefox in May, while IE use declined by 2.12% to 83.05%.
"We thought that Firefox growth had slowed down," said Niels Brinkman, a co-founder of OneStat.com. "It seems it's increasing again. That's a little bit of a surprise to us."
The study results were released just before Mozilla.org released the first public beta of the next version of Firefox. Beta 1 of Firefox 2.0 was made public today.
Last November, OneStat.com's survey pegged Firefox browser usage globally at 11.51%, up 2.82% from April 2005. IE at the time had a global usage share of 85.45%, down 1.18% from April 2005.
OneStat.com uses real-time Web analytics to look at which broswers are being used to view Web sites and to determine their popularity across the Internet, Brinkman said.
The other popular browsers globally, according to OneStat.com, are Apple Computer Inc.'s Safari, with 1.84% usage; Opera, with 1% usage; and Netscape, with 0.16% usage.
In the U.S., the most popular browsers are IE, which is used by 79.78% of surfers; Firefox, which is used by 15.82%; Safari, which is used by 3.28%; Opera, which is used by 0.81%; and Netscape, which is used by 0.2% of Web surfers.
Usage rates for IE and Firefox in Canada and the U.K. are similar to the U.S. statistics. But in Australia, Firefox is much more popular and is used by 24.23% of Web surfers. Microsoft's IE is used by 69.35% of Australian surfers, according to the study. In Germany, Firefox is even more popular: 39.02% of surfers there use it, compared with 55.99% who use IE.
Dana Gardner, an analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC in Gilford, N.H., said the growing use of Firefox arises from several factors, including better performance and fewer security problems than IE.
"I think it's been an astonishing ramp-up that Mozilla's had," Gardner said. "And of course, there's been a long period of time [since the original release of] IE 6. We've only got the beta version of IE7, so Microsoft gave people an opportunity to check out other browsers" by not regularly updating its own, he said.
The continuing shifts in browser usage should show vendors not to take their status for granted, Gardner said.
"It indicates how quickly people will move to a new software when they have that choice," he said. "To think that there's a great deal of security in your market position is not something to be lazy about. People will go somewhere else that will better suit their purposes."
Carol Baroudi, an analyst at Hurwitz & Associates in Waltham, Mass., said another reason for the growing use of Mozilla is that it's open-source software.
"For a lot of people, Mozilla happens to be a political choice," Baroudi said. "And IE has been problematic" with viruses, spyware and other security issues, she added.
Read more about Open Source in Computerworld's Open Source Topic Center.
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