BobbyeM71hxwChrome Has 5.2 Percent of Browser Market, Ahead of Goal

Google may not be winning over the multitudes with its Nexus One “superphone,” but the search giant is gaining ground in the 21st century browser wars. Google’s Chrome browser grabbed market share in January from its key rivals, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox.

According to NetApps, Chrome finished January strong, with a 5.2 percent market share. Although a 0.6 percent gain may not immediately rattle the dominance of well-entrenched players like IE and Firefox, it does show a steady flow of users to the youngest player in the browser market.

Overall, Google has doubled its market share, and in January saw the second-largest gain since rolling out the browser in September 2008. Google has already surpassed Apple’s Safari in the browser wars, making it the third-most-used browser.

Google has exceeded its goals, hitting five percent well before its September 2010 deadline. Google aims to reach 10 percent by September 2011 but could reach that number this year if its growth rate holds steady.

Digging Deeper Into IE Usage

Weeks after the bad publicity around Internet Explorer 6 and its role in the China-based attacks on Google, Internet Explorer lost half a percentage point of market share in January, according to NetApps. That leaves Microsoft with 62.2 percent of the browser market, a record low.

Microsoft has steadily seen its share of the market eroded by the likes of Firefox, Opera and even Apple. Google seems to be putting another dent in the browser market leader. Microsoft has lost 10 percent of its market in the past 12 months while Google reached its 5.2 percent mark.

Looking a little deeper, IE6 saw a 0.9 decline in market share to 20.1 percent. IE7 also suffered in January, dipping a full percentage point to 14.6 percent. The good news for Microsoft is that IE8 is stemming the tide of losses, at least in part. Launched last March, IE8 rose 1.5 percent in January, ending the month with a 22.3 percent market share. That makes IE8 Microsoft‘s most popular version.

Browser Round Up

The number-two browser, Firefox, also wasn’t immune to market declines in January. For the second month in a row, Firefox usage dipped. However, unlike Microsoft, Mozilla may not have as much reason to worry.

Although Firefox saw usage declines in December and January, there is no long-term trend. Firefox has only seen declines twice in about a two-year period. Overall, Firefox dipped 0.2 percent in January and still holds 24.4 percent of the browser market.

Turning to Safari, Apple gained a slight advantage, ending January with 4.5 percent market share, not enough to regain the number three spot but enough to outpace Opera, which fell to 2.4 percent.

Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret, doesn’t think the IE6 incident related to Chinese hackers has affected IE. Rather, he credits Google’s gains with the fact that the search giant regularly advertises Chrome on its home page.

“When you go to Google.com, if you are not using Chrome, you get offers to download and upgrade. When you’ve got the kind of clout Google has on its home page, it’s going to help drive adoption going forward,” Gartenberg said. “Of course, Chrome is a pretty good product, so that helps as well. It goes to show how fluid the tech market is today. It’s not easy for a small company to do a browser, but if you are a company the size of Google, you can make an impact on the industry.”

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