Could IE Finally Be Knocked Off Its Perch?

January 6, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Posted in Browsers | 1 Comment

John Letzing reported recently in many publications (1/5/09 WSJ page B3, or at the San Jose Mercury News) that “Microsoft’s browser sees notable decline in usage”.  It seems IE’s market share has dropped to 68% in December from 74% in May according to NetApplications. 

With most users not knowing or caring that they can install a different browser on their PC, what people choose to me isn’t as interesting as the fact that they choose at all.  I estimated in February that only 42% have explicitly thought about and selected their browser, which is even less than the percentage of Americans that have changed their religion!

In that context, seeing IE’s market share drop below 70% indicates a potential shift in channel power away from Microsoft.  To a large extent, their market share is a referendum on Microsoft’s ability to push its technologies through its channel rather than indicating technology preferences.  With more awareness of Firefox, more Macs using Safari (and PCs running iTunes which installs it), and upcoming competition from Chrome (it didn’t have time to impact the NetApps numbers yet), I can say for the first time in 5 years of covering browsers that there is a real possibility IE could fall below 60% in share within 3 years. 

A lot has to happen for that to occur (namely Google succeeding with making a case for Chrome as a better Internet platform), but it is possible.When I last reported on browser market share, I indicated not much had changed since my browser survey in 2005.  But 2009 could be the year that finally marks a shift in the browser market and, more importantly, sends a signal about Microsoft’s ability to push technology through the PC manufacturer and Windows reseller channels.

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