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Market forces and the final chapter of the browser wars

Browser wars? What browser wars? A recent news story reported that Google Chrome has overtaken Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the most used browser on the Internet. My first thought was, “What took so long?”

Actually, if you look at the historical record (below; data available from July 1, 2008), at least according to StatCounter, you will see that Chrome first surpassed IE on March 18 of this year, 32.71% to 32.5%. Since then, the two have been playing leapfrog for first place. (Mozilla Firefox maintains a distant-though-solid third place.) Chrome and IE each hit their high (34.55%) and low (29.4%) points, respectively, on the same day, May 13.

The browser wars used to be a big deal, when the PC was king. But no longer, with mobile applications becoming a common method for using the Internet, and with PC sales struggling to maintain any semblance of growth. Still, I was writing and editing stories about Netscape Communicator when the browser wars really meant something — when IE’s penetration was like 90%, and when IE essentially put Netscape out of business and sparked the landmark antitrust action against Microsoft. (I also have a theory that the ruling against Microsoft was one of the triggers of the dot-com meltdown and ensuing recession, but that’s a story for another day.)

Microsoft, despite its inevitable decline in browser market share, has to feel some vindication by this point. Company officials said all along that its actions with IE were about embracing and extending Windows, and that competition and other market forces would win out. They have. Market forces have won out. And the better browser won.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

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