At one point in time, back when it was really a nonissue, we were without a choice of internet browsers. In fact, as the very first graphical web browser, Netscape consumed 90% of all web use. Soon after, Microsoft began bundling Internet Explorer with Windows resulting in a massive market share shift in the coming years. Since then, we’ve seen the introduction of several key competitors that force innovation within the market.
On it’s eighth release, a majority of all web browsing is done through Internet Explorer. Actually, 61% of U.S. web browsing is done through some version of Internet Explorer. Worldwide, Internet Explorer accounts for a slightly higher 62% of the browsing market. Bundling Internet Explorer with the most popular operating system in the world allowed Microsoft to attain an impressive 95% market share back in 2002.
Eventually Netscape became part of the Mozilla, in an attempt to push web browsers into an open source model. The first version of Firefox was released in 2004 and, two and a half versions later, has since attained almost 30% of the U.S and worldwide browsing market. Earlier this year, Firefox reached 1 billion downloads. For not being preinstalled on operating systems, Firefox has come a long way.
A beta version of Apple’s Safari web browser was released in early 2003 and became the default browser with the release of OS X Panther. Now on its fourth version, Safari was the first browser to pass the Acid3 test that rates how a well a browser follows web standards. Within the last year, Safari has managed to capture 6.5% of the U.S. market share and only 3% worldwide. Safari has since been ported to the iPhone and iPod Touch, capturing 22% of the worldwide browsing market.
One year ago in September, Google released Chrome. Based off the same WebKit browser as Safari, Chrome has since been publicly released only on windows with an OS X beta version due this month. Despite being in its infancy, Chrome has already captured almost 3% of worldwide browsing. With the release of the Chrome OS sometime next year, expect these numbers to continue climbing.
Released back in 1996, Opera was developed strictly for the Windows platform. Opera actually required you to pay for the browser, something completely unheard of in today’s world. Opera accounts for 2.7% worldwide market share and a measly .55% in the United States. Opera eventually ported an optimized version for mobile devices that has seen a much higher adoption rate, claiming 25% of the worldwide (3% U.S.) mobile browsing market share.
Although the numbers for each browser don’t appear all that promising, each has helped push web development into what we see today. Expect to see these five browsers around for quite some time. What is your browser of choice? What makes it so? Let us know in the comments.
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