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Internet Explorer and Firefox Continue to Slide

While Microsoft and Mozilla wage war over IE9 and Firefox 4, both browsers are losing ground to Chrome and Safari.

New browser market share data shows that both Internet Explorer and Firefox lost ground in April. While Microsoft and Mozilla trumpet their latest browsers, publicly trade jabs, and beat their chests at one another, Chrome and Safari are quietly gaining market share.

Firefox declined by nearly two tenths of a percentage point overall, while Internet Explorer fell just over eight tenths of a percentage point to a new low of 55.11 percent. IE still has two and a half times the market share of its closest competitor--Firefox--but it has been losing ground slowly, but surely over the past year or two.

Meanwhile, Chrome--which is the third place browser with a little less than 12 percent of the overall market--has seen a 65 percent increase in its piece of the pie since last June--climbing nearly five percentage points. Apple's Safari browser isn't doing too bad either with a nearly 50 percent increase over its June 2010 market share--most likely a reflection of the success of Apple's iPhone and iPad.

For Firefox, there is good news for the latest version, but still disappointing news for the browser overall. Firefox 4 market share more than tripled from 1.68 percent to 5.43 percent. However, those gains were almost entirely wiped out by the drop in Firefox 3.6--an indication that most of the Firefox 4 growth is coming from cannibalizing existing Firefox market share. Add in some minor losses by other Firefox versions and you have a slight drop in overall market despite the impressive gains of Firefox 4.

It is a similar story at Microsoft. IE9 more than doubled its global market share over March--coming in at 2.41 percent. However, the decline in IE8 market share is virtually equal to the IE9 gain--again seeming to show direct cannibalization of IE8 users. At the same time, IE6 and IE7 usage declined as well, but the decision by Microsoft to limit IE9 to only Windows 7 and Windows Vista means that many of those IE6 users are jumping to alternative browsers.

Because IE9 has a limited audience, Microsoft likes to view the data through that lens. If you narrow the scope of the discussion to only Windows 7, IE9 has a more impressive 7.46 percent--more than double the share it had on Windows 7 the previous month. It is interesting, however, to note that Firefox 4 actually has a larger presence on Windows 7 than Microsoft's IE9.

Still, if IE9 can just replace IE8 for Windows users, as the general population continues to migrate from Windows XP and embrace Windows 7 it will work in Microsoft's favor eventually.

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