Though it might take a very long time before we see it beat IE and Firefox, it is now the 3rd most used browser.
We predicted it would happen, and it finally has: Internet Explorer 8 has surpassed IE6, easily the most hated version of Microsoft’s browser among the tech-savvy, after passing IE7 the month before that. At the time, we also predicted that Firefox’s steady gain would result in the browser passing the 25 percent mark in 2009, but alas, that will have to wait until sometime in 2010. Instead, Chrome was the big winner this past month, stealing third place away from Safari, while Opera remains in fifth place. In December 2009, only Safari and Chrome showed positive growth.
Between November and December, Internet Explorer dropped a significant 0.92 percentage points (from 63.61 percent to 62.69 percent) and Firefox dipped 0.11 percentage points (from 24.74 percent to 24.63 percent). Chrome jumped a sizeable 0.71 percentage points (from 3.92 percent to 4.63 percent), passing Safari, which moved up 0.10 percentage points (from 4.36 percent to 4.46 percent). Opera, on the other hand, kept steady at 2.31 percent, though as we reported last week, we expect big things from the little guy.
Chrome’s progress is certainly impressive: Google released its browser in December 2008, meaning that it only took a year for it to capture third place in the market. Looking back over this past year, it seems that Chrome is stealing users from Internet Explorer and Safari, surprising for those who thought Google would primarily steal Firefox users. Of course, this could still be happening, and Firefox could be simply stealing more users from Internet Explorer and Safari than it loses to Chrome. Based on accounts from our friends and families though, Chrome is getting looks from all camps.
Google struck a distribution deal with Sony in September 2009, and it will likely try to sign similar ones with other OEMs in 2010. Chrome is now in official beta for Mac and Linux and we think those versions look promising, but still need work. As the browser matures, Chrome’s market share growth is likely to continue.
From the chart above, you can see how Internet Explorer 8.0 continues to grow in market share, with it finally passing IE6. Internet Explorer 8 was released in March 2009, so it has taken Microsoft less than a year to push its latest version ahead of version 6 and version 7. While this is slow progress, it should nevertheless make a lot of Web developers very happy. Before the end of 2010, we’ll likely to see IE8 pass both IE7 and IE6 combined, though by that time we’ll probably also have an IE9 beta or two to play around with. Microsoft has said that it wouldn’t force its users to upgrade, but is touting IE8′s improved security in order to get IE6 and IE7 users upgrading.
You can see the market share pie for December 2009, according to Net Applications, at the top of this post. The graph just above shows how things at Ars are very different: Firefox continues to dominate, but the default browsers for Windows and Mac OS X still show their strength, and Chrome’s lead over Opera is much more significant at Ars. Compared to last month, IE gained share, while Firefox lost some. Safari dropped quite a bit, while Chrome and Opera gained. Chrome’s gain was particularly noticeable; given how it did worldwide, we’re not too surprised.