Xiti, which monitors share of browser across 32 European countries, reports that IE7 and Firefox 2 have, on average, reached parity in terms of site visit share. This compares with a clear advantage to IE7 in the early part of March. There are significant disparities between nation states with 17 of the countries indicating a preference for Firefox.
More significantly for those in enterprise land is the distribution of where Firefox is faring best. Of the most divergent countries, Germany shows 32.7% in favour of Firefox compared with 21% for IE7, Austria shows 26.2/24.2 while Finland shows 38.5/23. The remaining 12 countries that prefer Firefox are all either in the Eastern European area, part of the old Soviet bloc or less developed from a technology perspective.
I could speculate about the reasons for this but at least part of it will have a cost component. OK - so IE comes with Vista but recent analysis by Ryan Stewart, David Berlind and Zoli Erdos suggests that by 2010, the OS won't matter. Stick with me a moment on this. If their arguments hold true then it might be that Xiti's analysis is giving us some indication of how well Vista is faring across Europe.
The figures for Germany are a surprise. This is where Microsoft has been doing particularly well with its Dynamics business applications. If ever there was an indicator that Microsoft needs to be more open and cross-browser friendly then that's the country I'd be watching most carefully. It won't matter so much for its own business applications but it sure as heck matters when it comes to the development of bespoke applications and new services. As John Carroll recently said:
...it is my belief that the only way a Microsoft web strategy would make any sense is if it was designed, from the start, to work cross browser and cross-platform. Granted, the likelihood that that will happen certainly goes up with a Mozilla boasting credible market share, but irrespective of that, it should be part of Microsoft’s strategy from the outset.
If Microsoft takes this continuing research seriously and responds accordingly, it would be the single best way for it to mute its detractors while making development for business critical apps a lot easier. And just to put it in perspective, Europe had an estimated population of 728 million in 2005.