IE8 not gaining much market share

Chicago (IL) – The official launch of Internet Explorer 8 boosted the browser’s market share – not surprisingly, but in a much more subdued way that we would have expected. Given Microsoft’s reach and the massive press coverage, the bump in market share was less than what we have seen with the launch of Google Chrome or major versions of Microsoft. However, numbers released by Net Applications indicate that IE8 was downloaded about 5 million times yesterday.

Yes, I admit upfront that I am very picky and despite the fact that IE8 has shown some substantial improvements, especially in security, I was somewhat disappointed in how users have been accepting the browser during the first 36 hours after launch. There are virtually no reasons why IE7 users should keep their browser and not upgrade, but the download pace has been rather slow so far.

Of course, it is all a numbers game and you can skew the perception in either direction. If you prefer to make the browser look bad, you could point to the fact that the market share gains have not been so dramatic so far, increasing from an average of 1.34% on the day before the final version of the browser became available to an average of 1.45% on the first day of availability, according to Net Applications. However, during launch day, the market share climbed to as high as 1.86% and currently stands at slightly below 1.7%. In that view, you could say that the browser’s market share climbed by as much as 40% (and .52 percentage points), which does not sound that bad.

Net Applications does not provide absolute usage numbers, but our sources suggest that 1 percentage point pretty much translates into 10 million browsers in use, which would mean that a .52 point percentage increase translates to about 5 million downloaded and installed browsers, which is not that far from the actual number, sources told TG Daily.

The IE8 market share gain is difficult to pinpoint and compare with other final versions of browsers. It compares well with the launch of Google Chrome 1.0, which only gained about 0.1 points on launch day, but not so well with Firefox 3, which gained .66 points on day 1 and 3.51 points over 48 hours, according to Net Applications. At this time, it does not appear that IE8 will increase its market share by more than 1 point over its first 48 hours.

Firefox had a slight advantage in this game as it launched on a Monday (June 16, 2008) and had even more exposure than IE8, especially since Mozilla had forged a massive launch campaign surrounding the browser. The launch of IE8 was less expected and since we know that the use of IE7 and IE8 (as well as that of Firefox) is higher on weekends than during the week (business users still tend to use IE6 in corporate environments) we would expect a substantial jump in IE8 market share over the weekend.
But in the light of Microsoft’s marketing power, the market share gain so far has been disappointing. If we look at the importance of the browser for Microsoft and the implications of the upcoming cloud computing era, I am pretty sure that not everyone at Microsoft is happy with the way IE8 was launched.