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The state of the browser war as we enter 2013

Even as we enter a new calendar year, old tussles apparently live on – particularly, the ever-ongoing tussle for Internet browser supremacy. Although Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still dominated the market in December 2012, its market share continues to shrink despite the release of IE 10, with more familiar competitors like Apple’s Safari or the open-source Firefox also seeing a drop in usage in the month.

At a combined 54.53 percent market share – including 20.93 percent for IE 9, with IE 10 reaching 0.89 percent in its second full month of availability – overall Internet Explorer usage slipped by 0.23 percentage points in December from its November total, according to figures just released for last month. This news should be worrying to Microsoft as it means that IE has stopped growing after months of market share gains, despite both the relatively recent launch of IE 10 and Windows 8.

Overall, Internet Explorer’s fall can be mostly attributed to users giving up on IE 8, which fell 1.06 percent from November. IE 7 also dropped 0.14 percent from the month before, but IE 9 and, surprisingly, IE 6 both managed to gain users (IE 9 went up 0.13 percentage points, while IE 6 added 0.06 percent, the combination of the two effectively wiping out IE 7’s loss).

IE’s combined drop is nothing compared with the slide for Firefox, however; that browser lost 0.78 percent from the previous month, dropping to 19.66 percent market share for December. That hit means that it has fallen beneath a fifth of the market again, despite Firefox 17 adding 9.16 percentage points in its first full month of release. That impressive gain comes at the cost of Firefox 16, however; that browser lost 9.34 percentage points, with Firefoxes 13 through 15 also managing to lose market penetration at the same time.

Another loser for the month was Safari, which dropped 0.12 percent in market share compared with its November total, reaching just 5.21 percent of the available browser base.

It’s not all bad news for browser makers, however. As Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari all fall, others obviously have to rise to take their place, and in December it was the Opera browser and Google’s Chrome that emerged as winners, albeit in a particularly small manner. Opera, for example, rose 0.05 percent for the month to take its marketshare to 1.72 percent – a small figure compared with its competition, to be sure, but a milestone in its own right. Chrome is a somewhat different story; in December, Chrome’s market share rose for the first time in three months to 18.44 percent, making it a genuine competitor to Firefox, especially if the latter continues to slip in user base over the next few months. By far the most popular of the Chrome browsers, Chrome 23 rose 5.25 percent in December, bringing its share to 15.77 percent. Although the latest Firefox is growing almost twice as fast, it’ll be interesting to see whether the drop in earlier Firefoxes will mean that Chrome’s slower, steadier build will ultimately win the race.

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