The battle between the browsers might be over

It's now quite possible that the browser wars are over -- for now at any rate, as all the major browsers' market share has flat-lined.

For years, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome browsers have been locked in a fierce battle for market share. But data by web metrics firm NetMarketShare suggests that the battle between the browsers may be over.

Take a look at this data for the last 12 months:

Notice something interesting?

Apart from a little fluctuation in the Internet Explorer usage share -- which given its greater than 50 percent dominance isn't all that significant -- all the major players have flat-lined. This is good news for Microsoft, which had been seeing its usage share eroded away month by month. It's possible that Microsoft's television and light-hearted web campaign had something to do with this stabilization.

Here's a closer look at the timescale in question:

Even Google's Chrome, which was at one point gaining ground at a rate of knots at the expense of both Internet Explorer and Firefox, has now pretty much stabilized.

I've been expecting this to happen. New browsers attract attention, which is exactly what we saw with Chrome in the beginning -- and Firefox, but you have to go back a few years to see this effect, and the internet was a very different place back then). It was fresh and new, and people wanted to try it out. It was also blazingly fast compared to the competition.

But new versions of existing browsers don't attract as much attention. It could be argued that in the case of Firefox, unleashing too many new versions on end users was harmful to market share, and the pace of innovation slows down so there's less incentive for people to try out a different browser.

Browsers also gain a certain level of 'stickability' and users customize them and start relying on add-ons and extensions. Once a browser is set up the way a user wants it, and it contains things like the favorites list and passwords, it's not so easy to switch to another browser. Mozilla learned the value of add-ons for keeping users loyal to Firefox, and now Google is using similar tricks to keep users loyal to Chrome.

It's now quite possible that the browser wars are over -- for now at any rate -- until a new browser or some new innovation comes along to shake things up.

Image credit: NetMarketShare.


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