I can see why Microsoft is considering adding radical new features -- such as the proposed "Do Not Track" tool to Internet Explorer 9.
The proprietary browser continued losing market share to its open source rivals in 2010, namely to Google's Chrome browser, whose share has roughly doubled in a year's time.
According to Net Applications' figures for November 2010, Internet Explorer's share of the market has declined another five percent to 58.44 percent in November, compared to about 63.62 percent during the same month last year. In mid 2008, IE held a commanding lead of 75 percent market share.*
Meanwhile, Google's Chrome browser now owns 9.26 percent share of the browser usage market, up from about four percent this time last year, according to NetApplications.
Meanwhile, the other leading open source browser, Mozilla Firefox, garnered almost 23 percent market share during last month, down about two percentage points from November of 2009.
It will be interesting to watch usage patterns in 2011. Microsoft is preparing its much anticipated Internet Explorer 9 for release in the first quarter, while Mozilla's also much anticipated Firefox 4 is expected to make its market debut in the same timeframe.
Of course, most eyes will be on Chrome's ascent (or less likely, its descent) as Google's Chrome operating system -- with Chrome browser in tow -- makes its market debut on netbooks. As Microsoft knows, integrating the browser into an operating system tends to elevate market share considerably. Mozill'a Firefox team is also feeling the heat of the up-and-coming other open source browser.
The extent to which the ChromeOS succeeds in the coming year will no doubt shake up the browser market considerably. The public reacted mostly favorably to a recent preview of the code provided by Google. Although ChromeOS was expected to be here and in the hands of millions of users before this holiday season, it is making an early debut on some machines and will have a market impact by mid 2011.
It's also important to note that market shares can fluctuate month to month. An early preview of December 2010 figures as displayed today show Internet Explorer's share at 60.17 percent, while Firefox is at 23.65 and Chrome down at 7.2 percent.