A recent report from Web analytics firm NetApplications has found that Mozilla’s Firefox browser has once again lost ground in the browser space. Firefox’s loss of 0.2 percent marks the third straight month where the venerable browser has lost share at the hands of Google’s Chrome browser, which enjoyed a 0.4 percent growth on the month.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still reigns supreme with a whopping 61 percent market share, easily besting Mozilla’s 24 percent and Google’s 5 percent shares.
Comparing those figures might portend a daunting battle for Google and Mozilla as they attempt to compete with Internet Explorer. But as NetApplications reported, Microsoft’s 61 percent is a record low for the company as its market share continues to decline.
A key reason for that is the European Union’s recent enforcement of a rule that requires Microsoft to give European Windows owners the opportunity to choose between several browsers upon boot-up, rather than require them to use Internet Explorer out of the box. Although the program just started, that ruling could have a profound effect on which browser will lead the way going forward.
That leading browser might just be Google’s Chrome. As mentioned, Google’s browser share continues to grow as the rest of the market declines. And although the company has a long way to go before it can get close to Microsoft, that growth could accelerate further into 2010. Chrome simply has the best chance of beating Internet Explorer. Here’s why:
1. The EU ruling
The European Union’s ruling on browser choices can’t be discounted. Now that users have the option of picking the browser they want to use, it’s highly unlikely that the average user will pick any other browser besides Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. That’s due to one thing: notoriety. People know and trust Google’s Chrome browser. They also know Internet Explorer. The average Web user might not know Opera, Safari or even Firefox. And that hurts those browsers’ chances of beating Microsoft.
2. It’s Google
If any other company with just 5 percent market share was gaining some ground on Internet Explorer, I wouldn’t waste my time talking about it. But it’s Google that’s gaining ground on Microsoft. Google is the same company that walked into a search market and revolutionized it. It is also the company that controls Web advertising. If any company can overcome Microsoft’s Web efforts, it’s Google.
3. Security haunts Internet Explorer
A major concern with Internet Explorer is its security. Too often, users find that Microsoft’s browser suffers from some flaws that can put their data and personal information at risk. It’s a constant concern when using Internet Explorer. Far fewer security issues affect Google Chrome. That doesn’t mean that Google’s browser is fully secure, but one could make an argument that Google’s browser is more secure than Internet Explorer. That should only help its chances against Microsoft’s browser.
4. Google’s Chrome OS
Chrome OS could be a key component in Google’s battle for browser dominance. If Chrome OS takes off the way the search giant hopes, netbook users will opt against Windows and decide instead for Google’s OS. But we can’t forget that Chrome OS will only be available to netbooks upon launch, which means it probably won’t have a major impact on market share. But if netbook users are truly happy with Chrome OS, they will likely opt for Google’s browser on their desktops. Chrome OS could be Google’s Trojan horse in the browser space.
Speed, Trust Add to Chrome Momentum
5. Trust is key
Trust is a key measure in the success or failure of a browser. When we consider the current stable of browsers, I would argue that Google offers the more trustworthy experience. Consider this: Opera is relatively unknown outside of advanced-user circles, Firefox lacks the notoriety of its competition, and Microsoft has been dealing with security issues for far too long. All the while, Google is the world’s most-trusted search service. If trust matters to users, Google will capitalize.
One of the main reasons to use Google Chrome is its speed. In several tests examining the speed differences between Internet Explorer and Chrome, Google’s browser has come out on top. The faster the browser, the better the experience surfing the Web. If Microsoft wants to hold off Google as it continues to gain market share, the company needs to work on Internet Explorer’s speed.
Simplicity is king in the browser market. The vast majority of Web users today are novices when it comes to computing. They don’t play with menus. They don’t know how to change every setting. They just want to get on the Web, surf around, check e-mail and be done with it. Firefox, while simple to use, appeals to the more advanced user. So does Opera. But Chrome doesn’t. When Google designed its browser, it realized that novice users might be downloading it and it designed Chrome accordingly.
Part of Google’s genius is that it consistently works to integrate its core services into its other products to keep users coming back. That should help Chrome gain market share going forward. More people are using Google Search. Android is growing at a rapid rate. Even Google Buzz is performing relatively well. The more people who use Google’s services, the more likely they will be to use Chrome.
9. Don’t discount advertising’s importance
Advertising plays a key role in the browser war. Google wants to totally dominate the Web advertising space, and it will do everything it can to achieve that goal. Its Chrome browser could be a great way for the company to filter people into its grips. At the same time, Microsoft is vying for more market share in the ad space. Google simply can’t give Microsoft a significant opening on the Web. For now, it has that opening with Internet Explorer. And Google doesn’t like it.
10. The rest can’t do it
Whether or not Chrome will be able to supplant Internet Explorer as the world’s top browser is anyone’s guess. But it has the best shot at it. The rest of the browsers on the market lack the elements they need to overcome Microsoft. Google is big and powerful with a focus on beating Microsoft. The rest of the browsers on the market are run by small companies with less notoriety. Simply put, beating Microsoft comes down to money and size. And only Google has the right combination to do it.