When Mozilla Firefox first came out, computer users around the world rejoiced. It was the first time (since Netscape Navigator) that a legitimate competitor to Internet Explorer had drawn the attention of consumers.
But Firefox was released a long time ago. And since that point, new browsers like Chrome have also entered the market. In spite of the popular of both of these browsers, Internet Explorer has a dominant lead on both according to the latest September 2012 usage numbers published by NetMarketShare.
Specifically, Internet Explorer was still used by 53.63% of internet users in September of 2012. Although that represented a significant decline since September of 2012, when Internet Explorer held a 61% market share, Firefox and Chrome still have a lot of catching up to do. Their usage numbers currently sit at 20.08% and 8.86%, respectively.
Because of this information, some people are questioning if Internet Explorer will always be the world’s most popular browser. After all, it’s been able to survive enormous criticism over the past decade, including slow loading times and a myriad of security problems. In spite of these facts, Internet Explorer refuses to die.
However, it’s more significant to look at browser usage numbers over the past year. Over the past year, usage numbers have plateaued. In other words, users are happy with whatever browser they’re currently using and they’re not being persuaded to use any other type of browser.
Why is Internet Explorer so popular?
While Apple might be the world’s most valuable company, Microsoft’s Windows operating system is installed on most of the world’s computers. Windows comes preinstalled with Internet Explorer, and many users never make the switch away from their default browser. Furthermore, many corporate users don’t have administrator access to their systems, which means they can’t switch away from Internet Explorer even if they wanted to.
For that reason, Internet Explorer is only popular because Windows is popular. And when users have the ability to switch browsers, they generally choose to do so.
But is Internet Explorer really in first place?
Some people are questioning the data released by NetMarketShare. After all, separate studies conducted by firms like StatCounter show conflicting results. According to StatCounter, Chrome just recently surpassed Internet Explorer in terms of usage figures. StatCounter claims Chrome has a 34.21% market share while Internet Explorer hovers at 32.7%. And Firefox is a distant third at 22.4%.
So why are these numbers released by StatCounter and NetMarketShare so far apart? Apparently, the answer has to do with the difference between page views and unique visits. Specifically, StatCounter gets its data from the pageviews of over three million websites, while NetMarketShare uses unique visitors across 40,000 websites. It’s difficult to say which method would provide a more accurate sample.
In fact, just about every internet browser usage study conducted over the past few years shows conflicting results. A usage study conducted on a PC gaming website might show that visitors overwhelmingly favor Chrome and Firefox, for example, while a general interest site like CNN.com shows usage spaced evenly between all three major browsers.
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