Browser market share update: Firefox 3.5 eclipses Chrome

Chicago (IL) – Mozilla can celebrate a decent launch of its latest browser, Firefox 3.5. The software has cleared the 2% barrier over the weekend, topping Google’s Chrome browser for the very first time. However, even if Mozilla’s version transitions seems to be on track, Firefox has lost steam and is not gaining market share as quickly anymore as in previous months.
Microsoft has a similar problem – IE8 is gaining nicely, but not fast enough. The current market share gains are happening elsewhere, according to data released by Net Applications.

We have just gone through one of the most significant browser version update cycles, the Internet has ever seen. Apple introduced what we believe is the fastest JavaScript web browser currently available, Microsoft updated its antiquated IE7 with a more capable IE8 and Mozilla launched a new generation of Firefox, version 3.5, just last week. While it is too early to draw any conclusions if those new browsers will shift market shares and who the winners and losers will be, it is time to look at a half-year update of browser market trends.

According to data published by Net Applications, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had an average daily market share of 65.64% in June, down from 68.15% at the end of 2008. Firefox follows with 22.14% (up from 21.34%), Safari with 9.01% (up from 7.93%) and Chrome with 2.01% (up from 1.04%). However, over the past weeks, it seems that Firefox is losing some of its traction and market share gains are stalling, at least if we trust the data provided by Net Applications. Over the past 60 days, Firefox market share was 22.27%, over the past 90 days 22.44% and over the entire half year 22.17%. If you are pessimistic, then you may even claim that Firefox market share is slightly declining.

Internet Explorer, on the other hand has been relatively stable in terms of market share over the past three months, indicating that IE8 is accomplishing exactly what Microsoft intended to do – buy time to prepare an entirely new browser for the cloud computing age. While IE lost more than two points of market share in the first half of the year, the losses seem to be slowing and at least the average browser market share number has remained in the 65.6% neighborhood over the past 90 days, according to Net Applications.

Meanwhile, Firefox 3.5 has crossed the 2% mark for the first time on July 3 (2.31%). Version 3.0.x is down to 19.31% on the same day (down from 21.38% one week earlier), indicating that Firefox 3.0 users are slowly updating their browsers and Mozilla is not gaining or losing much market share in the process. Interestingly enough, however, we are noticing strong gains for Safari and Chrome. Chrome is now above the 2% mark on most days (but is now behind Firefox 3.5, according to Net Applications), which means that Google has almost doubled its market share in the first half of the year. The number indicates that Chrome has now somewhere between 15 and 20 million regular users. Safari posted a record market share of 12.15% on July 4, up from 10.13% last week. Safari currently hits a market share of almost 10% on Fridays and almost 9% during week days. Safari 4 now accounts for more than half of all Safari browsers in use with a market share of 6.87% on July 4.

Both Safari and Chrome are currently the most active browsers in terms of browser market share gains, according to the Net Applications data.