Google Chrome Nibbles at IE to Grab 11.5% Share

The Google Chrome Web browser's market share topped 11.5 percent in March, as it took a little share from Microsoft Internet Explorer, whose new IE 9 is impressing users.

Google's Chrome Web browser garnered 11.5 percent market share through March, gaining at the expense of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

IE, far and away the market leader with 15 years of legacy use behind it, commands 55.9 percent share but fell from last month's tally of 56.77 percent, according to researcher Net Applications.

Mozilla Firefox share ticked up slightly to 21.8 percent from 21.7 percent. Firefox has struggled to return to the 25 percent mark since the advent of Chrome in September 2008, but the company behind it just launched a snappy Firefox 4 that holds promise.

Apple's Safari browser also inched up, from 6.3 percent to 6.6 percent from the month before as loyal Mac users hold steady.

Chrome's share was 10.9 percent through February, which means the browser saw a solid bump last month. Google said in December Chrome has more than 120 million users, but that number is clearly higher now.

Google's Chrome team is launching a new stable release every few weeks, and paying people to squash bugs in the process. Google March 22 launched Chrome 11 to its Chrome beta channel with support for the HTML5 speech input API.

Given Google's new iteration cycle for Chrome, a stable build for Chrome 11 should launch next week, or the week after at the latest.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is cutting from the bottom and padding the top for IE. That is to say, the company is phasing out IE 6.

Microsoft said IE 6 is rarely still used in the U.S. but commands a substantial portion of the market in China (34.5 percent), South Korea (24.8 percent) and Japan (10.3 percent).

"The Web has changed significantly over the past 10 years," noted Microsoft. "The browser has evolved to adapt to new Web technologies, and the latest versions of Internet Explorer help protect you from new attacks and threats."

Indeed, IE 9 is an estimable competitor to the latest, speedy Chrome and Firefox builds. IE 9 reached 3.6 percent usage share in March, Net Applications said.