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Firefox cracks 20% market share in October, then slips

Finishes the month just under the milestone after gaining ground lost to Google's Chrome

November 3, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox climbed above 20% market share for two weeks last month but ended October just under the milestone, a Web metrics company said today.

During two separate weeks last month, Firefox exceeded 20% share, said Net Applications Inc. For the week ended Oct. 5, the open-source browser averaged exactly 20%, while for the week ended Oct. 26, Firefox accounted for 20.06% of the browsers used to connect to the thousands of sites that Net Applications monitors for clients.

For the month as a whole, however, Firefox's share averaged a close-but-no-cigar 19.97%, a jump of nearly half a percentage point over September. That month, Firefox lost ground because of Google Inc.'s introduction of its own browser, Chrome. Firefox has now regained what share it lost, and then some.

In June, Vince Vizzaccaro, Net Applications' executive vice president of marketing, had predicted that Firefox might reach the 20% mark as early as July, but instead the browser's growth stalled, then slid, when Google released Chrome.

Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer (IE), meanwhile, lost share again last month. Although IE remains the most-used browser by far, with a 71.3% share for October, that was down from 71.5% the month before. IE has dropped seven percentage points in the past year, the bulk of it lost to Firefox, with smaller portions going to Apple Inc.'s Safari, Opera Software ASA's Opera and Google's Chrome.

Chrome, which came out strong in early September but faded later that month, closed October with 0.74% of the browser market, slightly off September's 0.78%. Google has released three versions of the Chrome beta so far.

Apple's Safari, which was the only major browser to boost its share in September -- largely because of the lack of a Mac OS X edition of Chrome -- dipped during October to 6.57% from 6.65% the month before. Apple's share of the operating system market, as measured by Net Applications, also dropped slightly during October.

Mozilla users continued to update from the older Firefox 2.0 to the newer Firefox 3.0 during October; the latter now accounts for 73% of all copies of Firefox in use. Mozilla first offered users the upgrade to 3.0 in late August, but the company today said it plans to repeat the offer later this month to nudge Firefox 2.0 users one more time.

Firefox 2.0 is slated to slip out of support before the end of the year. Mozilla's current plan is to release a final security update for the older browser in mid-December, according to notes from a company status meeting held Monday.

Net Applications' browser market share data is available online.

Read more about Web Apps in Computerworld's Web Apps Topic Center.



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