The Internet browser wars have been raging for more than a decade, with no signs of slowing down. According to the most recent figures from StatCounter, we have a new No. 2 deputy 'round these parts.

Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Internet Explorer has reigned supreme since the beginning of time itself. But IE's browser grip has been steadily slipping over the years; its worldwide share has fallen from roughly 68.6% in mid-2008 to 40.6% today. Mozilla's popular Firefox browser has been the long-standing runner-up, but Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Chrome is the big winner as IE's slide continues.

StatCounter has just announced that Chrome has surpassed Firefox's global market share for the first time ever, though just by a hair. Its latest November figures show that Chrome has garnered a 25.7% share, slightly higher than Firefox's 25.2%. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Safari has been inching up at a snail's pace and now sits at 5.9%.

Statcounter

Source: StatCounter.

The Norwegian-based Opera browser, which uses a similar cloud-acceleration technique to what Amazon.com's mobile Silk browser uses, hasn't really flinched much over the years. Its share continues to hover near 2%.

Chrome's ascent is especially impressive when you consider it was just launched in September 2008, so our graph comprehensively captures Chrome's rise starting from 0%. In just over three years, it now drives more than a quarter of the world's World Wide Web interactions. Compare that with Safari, which has been around since January 2003 and after nearly nine years has less than a 6% share.

Chrome's ascendance is nothing short of astonishing, and it shows how aggressive and successful Google has become with pushing the browser forward. Being the browser provider of choice is critical for the search giant, since if it owns the browser, it owns the search. Users are now trained to use built-in search boxes, and even though they can change the default, Chrome inevitably helps steer Netizens to its multicolored mothership instead of to Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), Bing, or AOL (NYSE: AOL).

Not only that, but it also gives browser makers some leverage with shaping the technologies that power the Internet, such as HTML5. It's no coincidence that Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) ditched mobile Flash development in favor of HTML5, after Apple, Google, and Microsoft all ganged up in unabashedly bashing Flash.

At this rate, Google may even topple Microsoft from the browser throne within the next year. Chrome is just another example of how Google has one of the biggest moats ever known to investors -- just ask Warren Buffett.

Add Google to your Watchlist to see if it becomes the new browser king. As Google Android helps drive the smartphone and tablet revolution, component suppliers stand to ride the mobile wave to riches. Check out this free report on three mobile component suppliers that Android is boosting.