It's been a while since I heard an update from the ongoing Web browser wars, so I was interested in Ars Technica's recent report that Microsoft's
Granted, Internet Explorer still has the lion's share of the market, but its share has dwindled more than many people might have imagined a few short years ago. Around this time last year, when Internet Explorer had fallen to less than 90% of the market, many people seemed to doubt that it could lose much more ground. After all, Internet Explorer is the default browser on many people's computers, and Microsoft Windows is the dominant operating system. Surely other browser options were only the realm of techie-oriented users.
However, Firefox has continued to gain. According to Net Applications, which tracks browser market share, as of September, Internet Explorer had 82.1% of the market. Firefox has steadily gained to come in at 12.46%, and Apple's
Firefox burst onto the scene in 2004, taking full advantage of Microsoft's lapses in Internet security and innovation. Its grassroots Spread Firefox marketing campaign was impressive, with fans donating money for full-page ads in major newspapers to spread the word. It has also been interesting to note that Google
On the other hand, I have often overheard some of my Foolish colleagues talk about the fact that whenever Firefox security flaws come to light, there's a lot less tumult than when the same type of news hits about Internet Explorer. Maybe most people simply can't help but love the underdog, or maybe a company as dominant as Microsoft (with such deep pockets and vast resources) leads people to expect more. At any rate, it's still a point to bear in mind.
As interesting as the new data is, though, it should all get much more interesting in the coming months. Microsoft released a beta of its Internet Explorer 7 browser earlier this year, but other than its security features, it seems few people were greatly impressed with its capabilities compared to its rivals. However, Microsoft is due to release Vista soon, and its new version of Internet Explorer is due later this month. So it stands to reason that the browser battle is about to heat up once again, especially because Firefox 2.0 is imminent as well.
One thing's for sure, though -- as time has gone on, and computers have become ubiquitous household appliances, and users have become more comfortable with technology, just being the default option is no longer good enough. Innovation's the name of the game, and nobody can rest on their laurels.
Take a step back in time in the browser wars:
- IE 7 beta was better, but maybe not best.
- Firefox was hounding Microsoft last fall.
- When Firefox first burst onto the scene, it seemed just crazy enough to work.
Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. To find out what other companies Philip Durell has highlighted as bargains, click here for a 30-day free trial. Time Warner is a Stock Advisor pick.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She prefers Firefox.