Mac Musings

Firefox and Safari Continue Chipping Away at Microsoft's Dominance

Daniel Knight - 2006.10.11

The latest browser numbers are in, and the Internet Explorer hegemony is shrinking. According to Net Applications, IE usage has dropped from 86.87% in Sept. 2005 to 82.10% in Sept. 2006.

Put another way, less than 1 in 7 users were using something other than Internet Explorer a year ago, and today more than 1 in 6 are using Firefox, Safari, Opera, or another alternative to IE.

Both Safari and Firefox have grown significantly. At 12.46%, Firefox use has grown by about 65% in a year, and Safari, now at 3.53%, is up by roughly 50% vs. a year ago.

Other Losers

Microsoft isn't the only loser.

Firefox has grown at the expense of Netscape and Mozilla. Netscape usage fell from 2.16% a year ago to 0.85%, and Mozilla from a minuscule 0.42% to 0.25%.

Opera has grown a bit from 0.51% to 0.64%, and "other browsers" (which includes iCab, OmniWeb, Konqueror, Camino, and others) have increased their combined share from 0.08% to 0.15% - nearly double what it was a year ago.

What Does It Mean?

Microsoft isn't on the ropes by any stretch of the imagination, since 82% of browser users still use Internet Explorer. And IE 7.0 is nearing official release, including such "innovations" <cough cough> as tabbed browsing.

From these statistics, we have further evidence that the Mac's market share is growing, since the majority of Mac users use Safari, Apple's default browser. Apple is growing its market share.

The growth in Firefox shows two things: Firefox has essentially displaced Netscape and other versions of Mozilla, and Windows users are beginning to take security seriously, looking at a browser with a lot less security problems than Internet Explorer.

As the installed base of Macs and Linux computers continues to grow, it will continue to chip away at Microsoft's dominance, since the Redmond giant doesn't make Internet Explorer for either platform. Between people looking for an alternative to Windows and those looking for an alternative to IE, Microsoft's market share has nowhere to go but down.

On a personal note, I'm in such a small minority that I don't even show up among the top five browsers. My default is Camino, a version of Mozilla built especially for Mac OS X, and I use Firefox, a special G4 optimized version of Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Safari just a bit of the time.

Whatever your favorite browser, you owe it to yourself to see what's new. Safari is better than it used to be, and Firefox is making big strides forward. Opera, although it has a very small market share, also makes a very nice browser, and if you still use the classic Mac OS, you really ought to give iCab a try.