Firefox loses market share

A short-term blip, or a backlash against Firefox security flaws?

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has clawed back some market share from Mozilla's Firefox, according to latest figures.

Web application provider NetApplications said on Friday that the open source browser's market share fell from 8.71 percent in June to 8.07 percent in July. IE's share grew from 86.56 percent to 87.2 over the same period. NetApplications said this is the first time that Firefox has faltered in its rise against IE since its launch last year., a Web development tutorial site, has also recorded a drop in the proportion of its visitors using Firefox over recent months, from a peak of 21.0 percent in May to 19.8 percent in July. The combined market share of IE 5 and 6 increased from 71.4 in April to 73.8 in July.

Over the last year, Firefox' market share has increased significantly, with Web analytics firm reporting that it quadrupled its market share between May 2004 and April 2005, and WebSideStory reporting that it doubled its user base in the US between June 2004 to April 2005.

The drop in Firefox' market share could be an anomaly, or could indicate that some users have switched back to IE. Over the last couple of months, developers have patched a number of security flaws in the open source browser and in Greasemonkey, a third-party extension for the browser.

It is possible that these and earlier security flaws have damaged the open source browser's reputation, although there have also been several IE security flaws over this period, including a flaw in the way IE handles JPEGs and a bug that could allow arbitrary code execution.

Microsoft plans a number of security improvements in IE 7. But as this browser will not be available to users of Windows 2000, the Mozilla Foundation has predicted that it will see a surge in interest in Firefox once IE 7 is launched.