Chrome keeps winning; Internet Explorer keeps falling

IE is still the number one Web browser, but it may go below 50% of the market as early as March according to one measurement, and below 40% on another. Oh, and the single most popular Web browser of all? Google's Chrome 16.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Net Applications has Chrome gaining on IE & Firefox as 2011 ended.

Net Applications has Chrome gaining on IE & Firefox as 2011 ended.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), according to both Web browser surveying companies, Net Applications and StatCounter, is continuing its fall like a stone, while Chrome keeps flying upward Indeed, StatCounter has Chrome 15, now Chrome 16, thanks to Chrome's automatic update feature, being the world's most popular single browser version.

Even by Net Applications's account though, IE has dropped to a new all-time, modern low of 51.9%, By their numbers IE dropped over seven points last year. If its decline keeps up at this rate, IE will fall below 50% by March. By StatCounter's statistics , which look at the global Web browser market, IE went under 40% for the first time. StatCounter has IE's share down to 38.65%.

Roger Capriotti, Microsoft's IE marketing head, chose to put the most positive spin on the results. Capriotti wrote in advance of Net Applications' final numbers for the year, We're pleased to say IE9 ... will soon take the top spot from IE8 on Windows 7." Capriotti didn't comment on IE's far more dismal StatCounter's performance numbers.

While Statcounter has Chrome already ahead of Firefox and closing fast on IE.

While Statcounter has Chrome already ahead of Firefox and closing fast on IE.

At the same time, Chrome, which recently overtook Firefox for second place according to StatCounter's measurements, hit a new high of 19.1% by Net Application's numbers. If Chrome continues to grow at this pace, it will break 20% either in January or in February. StatCounter has Chrome doing far better on the world stage with 27.27%.

Firefox, which recently inked a deal with Google that will bring it almost a billion dollars in the next three years, bottomed out at 21.8%. By Net Applications' count, Firefox will drop to third place in March. StatCounter, of course, already has Firefox in third, but their numbers show the popular open-source browser showing a slight gain in December: 25.27% over November's 25.23%.

As for the rest, StatCounter has Apple's Safari in 4th place and slowing growing to just over 6% for the end of the year, while Opera just keeps its nose above water with 1.98%. Net Applications has them in the same positions with Safari currently having 4.97% and Opera showing 1.66%.

You can argue about the exact numbers, you can fight over each site's methodology, what you can't argue about are the trends. IE is declining and Chrome is gaining. Indeed, if things keep going the way they are, it may well be that Chrome will become the top Web browser by any measurement.

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