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Chrome takes No. 2 browser spot from Firefox

Google's Chrome has narrowly overtaken Mozilla's Firefox as the second most popular desktop browser behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which is holding onto its market-leading share of the market, according to one Web analytics firm.

StatCounter's monthly statistics for November show IE in the lead with 40.63% of the global market, followed by Chrome with 25.69%, Firefox with 25.23%, Safari with 5.92% and Opera with 1.82%.

BROWSER WARS: IE vs. Firefox vs. Chrome vs. Safari vs. Opera

"We can look forward to a fascinating battle between Microsoft and Google as the pace of growth of Chrome suggests that it will become a real rival to Internet Explorer globally," said Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter, in a statement. "Our stats measure actual browser usage, not downloads, so while Chrome has been highly effective in ensuring downloads our stats show that people are actually using it to access the web also."

While Chrome for the first time surpassed Firefox on a global basis, that's not the case in the U.S., where IE maintains a larger share of the market (50.66%), and Firefox (20.09%) retains a lead over Chrome (17.3%), StatCounter reports. (See also: "Firefox 8 adds Twitter search, tightens add-on controls")

Two years ago, in November 2009, Chrome accounted for just 4.66% of worldwide browser usage. Chrome exceeded 20% of the global Internet browser market in June of this year for the first time, according to StatCounter. On a country basis, it surpassed Firefox and became the No. 2 browser in Ireland in May and in the U.K. in July. Chrome's steady increase since its introduction in 2008 has come at the expense of IE, primarily, and Firefox to a lesser degree.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her email address is [email protected]

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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