Browser Wars Redux: Is IE on the Run?

The BBC reports that Internet Explorer’s share of the browser market is the lowest in a decade, have just dropped below 60% worldwide:

Measurement firms tend to agree that IE is losing market share although the percentage share of rival is more hotly contested.

In the UK, research firm Nielsen suggests that IE still commands 70% of the market, with ’s on 18%. It does not include figures for Apple’s .

It still shows a downwards trend for IE, losing 6% of market share since last year.

They rank the top ones as follows (I had never heard of Flock or Lunascape):

  • – 59.9%
  • Firefox – 24.5%
  • Chrome – 6.7%
  • Safari – 4.7%
  • – 2.3%
  • Opera Mini – 0.7%
  • Netscape – 0.46%
  • Mozilla – 0.16%
  • Flock – 0.06%
  • Lunascape – 0.04%

The researchers think that a primary reason is that persons are more aware that there are, indeed, alternatives. Firefox has gained steadily for years, and Google’s Chrome has attracted lots of media attention, simply because Google has gotten to be so big that anything new it does is newsworthy.

In the researchers’ opinion, the “Browser Choice” recently introduced in the Euro Zone has not been in effect long enough to affect market share significantly.

I find that persuasive. Most folks really aren’t all that interested in how computers work; they take them as delivered and use what’s on them. Something has to bring alternatives to their attention before they realize, let alone seek out, different software.

That is also why persons get Microsoft Outlook and Office at home; they were introduced to them at work. If they used Opera M3 and Open Office at work, they would get them for home.

IE was the first browser for many persons. When IE first came along, a small percentage of persons had direct internet connections. (Here’s a summary of the growth in internet use from 1995 to the present.) The early years, the last half of the 90s, corresponded in the US with AOL’s tremendous growth as a dialup provider, which followed AOL’s opening up its internet gateway. Most folks were neither scientists nor professors and did not have direct access to the internet.

Then they got cable or DSL and started with the browser that came on their Windows 95 computers: Internet Explorer. And they’ve been using it ever since.

It makes sense to use what came on the computer and not go looking for something else. Persons find computers mysterious and intimidating and, if they are working, are almost afraid to mess with them. Unlike geeks, who seem to have built-in urge to take stuff apart and see how it works, they aren’t likely to change stuff just because they can.

They got used to IE, they kept using IE.

I have from time to time suggested the Opera browser to friends. Several have. A couple of them have moved to it, but more have stayed with IE simply because it’s what they were used to, even though they liked Opera.

Inertia is one of the most powerful forces in nature.

Additional Reading: Wikipedia has a nice history of the Browser Wars.

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