Firefox Leads European Browser Race

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Firefox is the most popular web browser in Europe thanks to a little help from Google’s Chrome

New research from web analytics company StatCounter has revealed that Mozilla’s Firefox is now the most popular web browser in Europe.

The findings represent a worrying trend for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which has enjoyed many years of browser domination after beating the grandfather of web browsers, Netscape, back in the late 1990s.

According to StatCounter, Firefox overtook Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) to become the number one browser in Europe in December 2010. Firefox took 38.11 percent of European market share, compared to IE’s 37.52 percent.

IE Dethroned

“This is the first time that IE has been dethroned from the number one spot in a major territory,” commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter. “This appears to be happening because Google’s Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share.”

Google Chrome is effectively the new kid on the block, but it continues to grow and is now in third place, after growing to 14.58 percent compared to 5.06 percent in December 2009.

“We are probably seeing the impact of the agreement between European Commission competition authorities and Microsoft, to offer EU users a choice and menu of browsers from March last,” added Aodhan Cullen.

The ballot screen was introduced as an automatic download to European users on 1 March 2010, as a tactic by Microsoft to sidestep concerns from the European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulatory body, about the bundling of Internet Explorer 8 with copies of Windows.

US And UK Domination

Despite this intervention by the European Commission however, the StatCounter statistics revealed that Microsoft continues to dominate the all-important North American market, where IE still retains a clear lead with 48.92 percent, followed by Firefox (26.7 percent), Chrome (12.82 percent) and Safari (10.16 percent).

And it seems that IE’s domination of the American market is mirrored in Britain, where IE enjoys a 50.37 percent market share lead. Firefox in the UK is sitting at 23.35 percent, Chrome is at 16.52 percent, Safari is at 7.55 percent, and Opera at 1.1 percent.

StatCounter said that its findings were based on aggregate data it collected on a sample exceeding 15 billion page views per month (4.9 billion from North America) collected from across the StatCounter network of more than 3 million websites.

The StatCounter research differs somewhat from other findings however.

In early December for example, Net Applications found that Microsoft Internet Explorer had a reduced global market share figure of 58.41 percent in November, compared to Firefox (22.81 percent) and Chrome (9.27 percent).

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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