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The Browser Wars of 2005

  |  January 6, 2006   |  Comments

Microsoft's lead in browser market share softens before the expected release of a new version of Internet Explorer.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) remains the largest stakeholder in browser market share, but it lost ground in 2005. Web browser statistics for yearend 2005 released by NetApplications.com indicate movement in browser market share for 2006.

SME Browser Market Share December 2005
Click on graphic to view chart
IE ended 2005 with an 85.05 percent market share, down from 90.31 percent in 2004. Microsoft's decision to discontinue support for its browser on the Mac could lead to further degradation of its market share. NetApplications' EVP of marketing and strategic relationships, Vince Vizzaccaro, said Mac users will likely migrate to Apple's Safari browser. Microsoft is due to release an upgrade to IE this year.

Mozilla's Firefox gained market share in the first quarter; showed signs of slowing adoption during the second quarter, and picked up the pace to finish 2005 with a 9.57 percent market share. That's up from the 4.64 percent footprint it held at the close of 2004.

SME Browser Market Share December 2004
Click on graphic to view chart
Safari was the only browser to increase its user base each month in 2005. It finished the year in third place, with a 3.07 percent market share. It closed 2004 with a 1.56 percent claim on browser users.

Netscape was the only browser besides IE to lose market share in 2005. Firefox's predecessor dropped to 1.24 percent usership from 2.07 percent in 2004. The browser went from ranking third to fourth.

The Opera browser closed both 2004 and 2005 with the same half percent market share despite major changes to its business model. In 2004, users could choose from a free, ad-supported browser and premium browser. In 2005, Opera went to a completely free ad-supported browser. The report finds Opera's strength in its installed base of handheld devices and sees the browser gaining strength when the platform takes off.

NetApplications collects data on browser usage at the ISP level.

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Enid Burns

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