Microsoft's Internet Explorer's market share is absolutely falling. The question is, by how much?
I've reported before that Internet Explorer (IE) drops 5 percent market share points each year, while Mozilla
gains 5 percentage points per year. But what is becoming increasingly
clear is that IE's market share may be dropping more precipitously than
previously reported, falling to 60 percent share in June 2009 instead
of the 68 percent share expected.
That's not the sort of chart with which Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer likes to sweeten his coffee in the morning.
Net Applications, the other big source of browser market share data, still hasn't posted its results
for June 2009, noting that it is trying to make sense of "some
significant variations in browser and operating system statistics."
Given that market share data isn't a one-month phenomenon, it's not
necessarily helpful to celebrate or fret over the June data, especially
since much of the market share share data is going to get skewed in the
summer months, anyway. For example, given Firefox's disproportionately large following in Europe, coupled with Europe's disproportionately long holiday season in the summer, I'd expect to see Firefox drop some percentage points against IE through August, only to rebound strongly in September.
Regardless of short-term variations, one thing seems clear: Firefox
is gaining on IE. Microsoft spent too long enjoying its browser
dominance, and not enough time innovating. It's starting to pump
R&D dollars into IE again, but it's not yet clear whether its monolithic approach to browser development can compete in the long term with Mozilla's community-developed Firefox.
Microsoft needs to compete again, or risks seeing even StatCounter's data understate just how quickly it's falling.
Mozilla, for its part, faces a host of new challenges.
It can't afford to waste much time with back slaps and high-fives. The
browser has become the center of computing. Microsoft isn't going to
give up easily, nor will Google or Apple.