Some chunks of good browser-related news at the turn of the new year: Firefox browser usage is more than 20% now, while Internet Explorer, especially IE6, is declining—forcibly and otherwise!
Firefox market shares are rise, IE shares decline
For the first time ever, Net Applications is reporting that Mozilla Firefox market shares passed 20% while Microsoft Internet Explorer dropped below 70%. Four major factors are said to explain Firefox growth, from the US elections to longer weekends/holidays, and higher unemployment—all US-centric factors.
Here’s a chart by browser version. IE7 remains the dominant browser in the market, while IE6 is still at number 2, having almost the same percentage as all Firefox versions combined. But it has declined from the 21-22% range in the last quarter of 2008.
Google Chrome barely leaves a dent at 1%, but surpasses Opera at 0.7%.
Google urges IE6 users to upgrade
According to TG Daily, Google’s Gmail is now sporting a message specifically for IE6 users to upgrade and “get faster Gmail”.
The link leads to a page that promotes Chrome and Firefox 3. “Browsers are getting faster and better at running web applications like Google Mail that use browser technology to its limits,” the page reads. “In order to get the best experience possible and make Google Mail run an average of twice as fast, we suggest that you upgrade your browser to one of the fastest Google Mail supported browsers that work on Windows.” The page offers direct download links for Firefox 3 and Chrome. IE7 and Apple’s Safari are listed as supported Gmail browsers.
This is not the first time that a large company is forcing its hand. Apple’s MobileMe recommends only 2 browsers: Safari, which it owns, and Firefox.
There is hope!
With the combination of natural factors and some nudging from the big, influential companies like Google and Apple, the obsolete browser that is IE6 might just retire sooner than we expect, sooner than never.
Between Apple computers gaining popularity and Google remaining just as powerful, their influence on which becomes the default browser in controlled environments will be needed to level the playing field, ultimately pushing the capabilities of web browsers forward.