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Microsoft's IE loses momentum, drops market share

Chrome is back up, Firefox stays flat in August

September 1, 2010 02:19 PM ET

Computerworld - The browser battle returned to what passes for normalcy in August as Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), which had a two-month run of usage share gains, lost ground to the usual suspect: Google's Chrome.

"August was a normal month, more like before the IE gains," said Vince Vizzaccaro, vice president at Web metrics company Net Applications. "IE lost, Chrome and Safari gained, even Firefox gained a little."

IE fell by three-tenths of one percentage point to end August with a 60.4% share of the global browser pie, Net Applications' data showed. That marked a departure from IE's performance in June and July, when it posted increases of six-tenths and four-tenths of a point, respectively.

"If you look at IE in general, it does appear that it's lost the momentum [of the last two months]," said Vizzaccaro.

While IE was the biggest loser last month, Chrome was the clear winner.

Google's browser reverted to form by gaining almost four-tenths of a percentage point to account for 7.5% of all browsers used last month. The increase made up for the surprising slip last month, Chrome's first in nearly two years, and then some: August's share was Chrome's highest ever.

Apple's Safari boosted its number slightly, accounting for a 5.2% share, while Opera Software's flagship desktop browser dipped to 2.4%.

Mozilla's Firefox, meanwhile, essentially stayed flat at 22.9%. The open-source browser maker has to count August as a win, however, because the month's minor increase of 0.02 of a percentage point was at least in the black. In July, Firefox lost a near-record nine-tenths of a point.

But although IE's overall share slid -- as it's done 10 out of the last 12 months -- Microsoft again touted IE8 gains today.

"[IE8] grew 1.17 [percentage point] to account for 32.04% of usage share worldwide, more than three times that of Chrome's 0.36 [percentage point] share growth," said Ryan Gavin, a senior director on the IE team, in a post to the group's blog Wednesday.

To get to the 1.2-point increase, Microsoft combined IE8's number with those tagged as the browser's Compatibility Mode -- a feature designed to let users view older Web sites with the newer browser -- as well as specialized third-party versions based on IE8.

On its own, IE8 actually grew by just over one point, ending August at 27.9%.

Gavin spent most of his blog post highlighting the continued decline of another Microsoft browser, the nine-year-old IE6.

"An additional piece of encouraging news was the further drop of Internet Explorer 6, particularly in developed markets," said Gavin, who pointed out that the browser's drop of eight-tenths of a percentage point, to 16.2%, marked its lowest level ever in Net Applications' data.



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