A new year is here, but the Microsoft Internet Explorer teammight be wishing they could roll back the hands of time. The latest statistics fromdata firms StatCounter and Net Applications shows that Internet Explorer isconsistently losing market share to rising star Google Chrome

Google Chrome. Winning.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) has long dominated the desktop browser market. Bundled with Windows, many users never considered using anything else. However, times are changing. Users have multiple browseroptionsand increasingly they are just saying “no” to IE.

According to global data from Net Applications and StatCounter, IEstill owns a significant segment of the market -- 51.87% (Net Applications) and 38.65% (StatCounter) -- as of December 2011. This mightseemimpressive, but viewing the trend data shows that IE’s leadershipposition isin peril.


NetApplication Browser Share January 2010 to December 2011


StatCounter Browser Share January 2010 to December 2011

Looking back two additional years using StatCounter datastarting inJuly 2008, the precipitous decline is demonstrated even more clearly.

StatCounter Browser Share 2008 - 2012

You could focus on the wide discrepancy in the market sharestatistics, because Net Applications and StatCounteruse different collection methodologies. However, no matter how you spinthedata, IE is clearly on the decline on the desktop.

Learning Opportunities

What’s the reason for this decline? A quick examination ofthe trendlines shows that relative newcomer Google Chrome is clearly a factor. Its speed and minimalist user interface seems to be creating fans andcausing Chromeutilization to grow rapidly. Chrome surpassed Firefox’sglobal market share recently.If current trends continue, Chrome willmove into the number two market positionsoon. Firebox’s recent 3-year/US$ 900 million deal with Google probably helps soothe Mozilla’s sting abit.

What This Means

Browser software is almost universally free. So, why should companies care about how much market share they are able to gain if theyarenot directly profiting from higher adoption levels? Browsers are awindow intothe rest of the user’s machine. Users are more likely toconsume additionalservices and software by the vendor if they have apositive experience with thevendor’s browser. It’s the same strategythat allowed Microsoft to dominate thedesktop. This is even moreimportant as software increasingly moves away fromlocal installationsto the cloud and use the browser as a launch point.

It will be interesting to see if the emergence of Windows 8 Metroimpacts Microsoft’s declining browser market position. What’s your preferred browser? We would love to hear your thoughts.