Microsoft got some good news this week when new data showed they had gained market share on rivals Firefox and Chrome last month. It might very well be a temporary data glitch, especially when news came out today that IBM was recommending that its 40,000 employees use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. For today, however, Microsoft was very happy for the change, even if it's not quite as great as the headlines (or Microsoft) would suggest.
A Closer Look at the Data
According to data from a site called Net Marketshare, dating back to August 2009, IE has been steadily losing market share.
- They had a high of 66.97% in August, 2009
- It dropped steadily every month until May when it had dipped down from that high all the way to 59.75%
- Then in June it popped up again to 60.32%.
Microsoft is Happy Enough
Microsoft certainly noticed. In a blog post on their Exploring IE blog, Ryan Gavin of Microsoft wrote:
"Today, Net Applications released their usage share numbers for June and the positive news continues. In June, Net Applications shows overall Internet Explorer share growing by 0.57% worldwide."
Gavin admitted they don't typically judge the business on such small time samples, but they still couldn't help but point it out, and who can blame them? It's the first good browser market share news in 10 months.
Firefox Takes a Hit
Firefox, on the other hand, which had been mostly on an upward trend for about 6 months, dating back to that same August benchmark, has been dropping steadily over the last few months, going from a high of 24.59 in April down to 24.32 in May and 23.81 in June. That's certainly not a trend most companies would hope for, even an open source one, but it's not entirely unexpected either. As a long-time Firefox user I've been concerned for a number of iterations by Firefox's memory management problem, a problem that I first wrote about in my by Ron Miller blog as far back as December, 2005 in a post appropriately titled, Firefox has a Memory Leak.
I keep waiting for them to fix it, but they never seem to have done it. In fact, I recently changed browsers moving to Chrome, rather than Internet Explorer or Safari.
Lies, Damn lies and Statistics
It could be that this is the simple case of a statistical anomaly. One month doesn't make a trend for IE, but certainly 3 months is disturbing for its competitor. The fact is, however, that browsers are free software. I'm sure that Google, Apple and Microsoft as commercial entities would love to have you live inside theirs (even though they make nothing directly off of it), but does the browser that you use really matter in the scheme of things?
Regardless, Microsoft could gloat for one day about success of theirs, but they should keep in mind that next month could be a different story.