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March 2, 2012

Feb Browser share: IE, Chrome lose; Firefox, Safari gain

Net Applications has released browser market share numbers for February 2012.

Among the desktop browsers, Internet Explorer (IE) could not repeat the success of last month and lost market share. Chrome also lost market share for the second consecutive month, while the other three major browsers, Firefox (FF), Safari and Opera, gained.
In the Mobile browser segment, Safari and Android increased their share and now combined account for 81% of the total pie while Opera saw its market share decline of 5%. Overall, mobile market share continue to show major month over month changes, though Safari has consistently accounted for over half of the pie.
Let us look at the numbers in more detail.

Desktop market share

Unfortunately for Microsoft, IE could not hold on to the gains made last month, when Chrome's search engine ranking was downgraded by Google, and has lost 0.12% market share. While the decline in IE usage continues, the rate of decline has reduced and the browser may be able to hold itself around the 50% mark, especially with encouraging IE9 demand.
While it seemed last year that Chrome will be overtaking Firefox soon, it hasn't happened yet with Chrome's share declining for the second straight month. Still Firefox is not in a comfortable place and leads over Chrome by only 2.02%, with a gain of only 0.04% in February.
One of the reasons for Chrome's share loss in February is that Net Applications slightly altered the way Chrome's hits are counted. Starting from version 13 Chrome included a "prerendering" feature, where pages were speculatively loaded, so that they were available on demand. This tends to inflate the usage data of Chrome. 

Net Applications estimates that prerendering accounted for 4.3% of Chrome's daily unique visitors in February 2012. Going forward, this will be removed from Chrome's market share data. 

Another reason for the decline of Chrome was the search rank penalizing by Google. Next month with be interesting, we may again see Chrome gaining market share.

Safari gained 0.34% share while Opera also gained a marginal 0.04%, but there are no indications that either of the browser is going to have a surge in popularity any time soon.

IE 9.x continue to gain, while IE6 dips to historical low
Combine IE8 + IE9 had 40.8% of the market share with share of IE6 dropping to only 7.0%, a historical low. Majority of the remaining users of IE6 are likely to be enterprise users, along with a small number of home users, who have not felt the need to update IE or are still using early versions of Windows XP. 

The good thing for Microsoft is that IE9 (only available on Windows 7, Vista and Server 2008) continues to gain market share. As can be seen from the above chart, market share of IE9 on Vista/7 has been consistently increasing, indicating that users are not only upgrading, but upgrading to IE9.

Firefox - newer versions continue to gain traction

Mozilla should be happy that in spite of the ridiculous versioning adopted due to Chrome's influence, people continue to upgrade to newer versions. FF10 became the most widely used FF version with a 8.4% market share followed by FF9 at 4.5% share.

3.x still commands a healthy 4.0% share, and over the coming months we may see some movement towards the latest version. Though, 3.x is unlikely to be extinct anytime soon, as it has been adopted by many enterprises, who will now be perplexed at the path Firefox is following.
Mobile market share

Safari has surged once again, increasing its market to 61.2%, primarily at the expense of Opera which saw its share decline by 5%. Overall, mobile platform continues to be volatile with major market share changes, even though Safari continues to enjoy over 50% share.

Source: Net Applications / NetMarketshare

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