n a classic example of
lies, damn lies, and statistics, two research companies have released
studies showing completely different leaders in the browser war.
According to NetMarketShare, Internet Explorer had more than half (56.9
percent) the market share in browsers in May. Meanwhile, market watcher
StatCounter calculated that Chrome was top dog in May, with more than 40
percent of the market.
Why the discrepancy? It’s all in how the two outfits calculate their numbers.
Methods, meanings vary
NetMarketShare, which bases its numbers on traffic to about 40,000
sites, measures unique visits to those sites. No matter how many times
you visit one of those sites during a day, the company will count it as
one visit. It also weighs its numbers by region, so browser usage from
countries that typically produce more web traffic will have a greater
impact on NetMarketShare’s numbers.
StatCounter, which samples data from some three million websites, uses
page views to calculate a browser’s market share, so users may be
counted multiple times when they visit a website monitored by the firm.
StatCounter’s numbers are also “raw.” It doesn’t weight the findings or
apply other manipulation to correct the figures for data-gathering
Both methods have pluses and minuses, but the bottom line is that market share means different things to the two companies.
An ongoing skew is that Internet Explorer comes with every copy of
Windows. A user needs to make an affirmative choice to install and run
another browser—especially in the U.S.
In Europe, however, Microsoft settled charges of anticompetitive
business practices pursued by the European Commission by agreeing in
2009 to install browser choice screens
with a menu selection of browsers.
And, as always, already having a large market share helps build a larger
one. Users of the popular Gmail service by Google are frequently
invited to try its Chrome browser.
Within the context of their different methodologies, the browser-counters identified some interesting trends for May.
NewMarketShare uncovered progress by Internet Explorer
toward the newest version of the browser. It found IE 10’s market share
(9.26 percent) finally passed the combined share of the two oldest
versions of the application in the market IE 6 (6.03 percent) and IE 7
The market share for the latest version of Microsoft’s browser, though,
still has a ways to go to catch up with IE 8 (22.99 percent) and IE 9
NetMarketShare also shows IE, Firefox, Safari, and Opera gaining market
share in May, while Chrome’s share dropped to 15.74 percent from 16.35
The company also pegged Chrome’s market share trailing IE and Firefox.
StatCounter’s May numbers
tell a different story. It shows Chrome with the largest share of the
browser market (41.38 percent), an increase over April’s share (39.15
percent), and trailed by IE and Firefox.
It also shows April
to May declines in market share for IE (27.72 from 29.71 percent),
Firefox (19.76 from 20.06 percent), Safari (7.96 from 8.0 percent), and
Opera (1.0 from 1.01 percent).