Microsoft Prepares to Pass The Browser Crown

One day soon, Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Chrome browser will become top dog. I have no doubt about it. Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) days of Internet Explorer hegemony are numbered, as its market share trajectory is an exact mirror image of Big G's offering.

Chrome recently overtook Mozilla Firefox as the No. 2 browser, even as it decided not to outright kill Firefox by withdrawing financial support via its search partnership. I understand the rationale for ignoring my advice to pull the trigger, since Firefox's default search spot is a juicy seat for Google sit in -- and one that Microsoft Bing or Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) would gladly have occupied. That's why the king of search had to pony up nearly three times the dollars this past year to maintain the status quo.

Well, StatCounter is out with its latest batch of browser market share figures, and this story continues to play out in a familiar way: IE keeps on slipping, Chrome keeps on climbing, Firefox meanders, and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) Safari twiddles its thumbs.

Source: StatCounter.

In fairness, Safari has been inching higher and sits just under 7%, but Cupertino has no real reason to care about its browser as much as Google and Microsoft do, since the Mac maker has no search business.

IE now claims about 35.7% of the market, just over half of the 68.6% it had back in July 2008 – two months Chrome's launch in September 2008. In that same timeframe, Chrome has grown from a 0% starting point to almost 30% now. Firefox has fluctuated, but is mostly where it started: about a quarter of the market.

At this rate, Chrome looks like it may surpass IE by year's end, which would be quite a feat. If accomplished, Google will have toppled Microsoft's decades of browser dominance in about four years.

Bravo, Big G.

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Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google; creating a bull call spread position in Apple; and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2012, at 11:22 PM, funspirit wrote:

    Google's Chrome is winning for one reason- it is superior to IE!

    Waaayyyyy better in fact

    Just my opinion :)

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2012, at 1:59 AM, jdwelch62 wrote:

    Alas, my company's intranet and other web-based applications are "optimized" for IE (which means they won't work right on another browser), so I'm pretty much stuck with IE for now, until our IT dept gets it's act together. However, I bought a new PC for the family this Christmas (Intel inside, of course) & we've installed Chrome on it, & on my wife's laptop, to try to cut down on the number of viruses, etc that they tend to pick up thru their browsing habits...

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2012, at 12:42 PM, JevonG wrote:

    Internet explorer is much better in my opinion, people that have problems with it and get virus' are just plain stupid, the same people with 12 toolbars...

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2012, at 3:12 PM, CraigNotGreg wrote:

    Since web browsers are free, why does market share even matter, aside from the fact that it gives tech authors something to write about? Sure the underlying search engine of a browser generates revenue via advertising, but since an eight year old can change the default IE search engine to Google or the default Chrome search engine to Bing, the market share breakdown just doesn't matter.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2012, at 9:04 PM, italianceltic wrote:

    I agree with Jevon about tool bars. In particular, Google's offerings are too intrusive. On my smart phone I don't have a choice. My smart phone contract is up in July. At that time I am switching from Android(Due to Google's intrusiveness) to either an iPhone or the new Nokia Windows phone.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 2:15 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    @CraigNotGreg - You're right. This is as consequential as tracking the marketshare for media players. But at least Evan didn't use this as "proof" that Microsoft is doomed!!!!!11!!!

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