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It wasn't that long ago that Internet Explorer was the browser. Indeed, its dominance extended to about 95 percent. If you were traversing the Web, you were using IE to do it.
Those days, of course, are long gone. So far gone, in fact, that IE now represents less than half of the browser market. Ars Technica and other sites are reporting Net Applications' findings that IE has gone from majority to plurality status. Now, according to the firm, the standings for October found IE at 49.59 percent, followed by Firefox (21.20 percent), Chrome (16.60 percent), Safari (8.72 percent), Opera (2.55 percent) and Android (0.76 percent).
Joe Wilcox at Beta News posted a piece that had a headline that wasn't as polite as many seemed to be to a passing champ: "Internet Explorer Hemorrhages Browser Usage Share." The story looks at the NetApp numbers, but adds some of the site's own:
Last month, after viewing the startling results of a BetaNews poll, I asked: "My God, does ANYONE use Internet Explorer?" The poll is still open, but out of date, since new Chrome and Firefox versions has since shipped. Among the 4,470 respondents, 40.16 say they use some version of Chrome as their primary web browser. By comparison, 20.88 percent some version of IE, which is less than Firefox (30.18 percent). The poll is unqualified -- meaning we don't know who respondents are -- but we assume more tech-savvy folks based on readership.
He added that actual use on the site was more bunched, which he found "perplexing." In October, 29.68 percent of visitors used Firefox, 24.07 percent used IE and 23.58 percent used Google's Chrome. The surprise, he said, was how evenly spaced usage was.
The firm found that Safari is in the ascendency on the mobile side. Its slice of the pie has risen since February, while Opera Mini, Android and Symbian all are down. And, as Steven Vaughan-Nichols - who offers a nice sketch of the fun history of browser competition - writes, IE isn't going anywhere in the mobile sector:
On the smartphone/tablet market, IE is a total non-player with IE and Microsoft Pocket IE combined having only 0.17% of the market.
As with everything else these days, what is happening in mobile is the most important thing to watch. While Microsoft's Internet Explorer is fading on the desktop and is a non-issue for portable devices, a new king is emerging: Safari. NetApps found that 5.5 percent of all browsing is done on mobile devices. Last month, the players were Safari (62.17 percent), Opera Mini (18.65 percent), Android (13.12 percent), Symbian (2.55 percent) and BlackBerry with (2.04 percent). Opera Mobile, IE and others each had less than 1 percent.