Google Chrome could beat Firefox by year-end

Google’s Chrome advertising push seems to be paying off, as the browser climbs closer to overtaking Mozilla’s Firefox.

Since January, Chrome’s browser market share has climbed roughly one per centage point per month, while Firefox’s share has fallen by roughly 0.4 per cent per month, according to data from StatCounter. Chrome’s current share sits at 23.16 per cent, compared to 27.49 per cent for Firefox.

Chrome’s rate of growth and Firefox’s rate of decline put the browsers on track to switch places in market share as soon as December. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still has a commanding lead with 41.89 per cent share, but its share is steadily falling.

StatCounter’s findings are echoed by other firms that measure browser share. NetApplications also keeps track of the browser market, and gives Firefox a stronger lead over Chrome (22.57 per cent for the former, 15.51 per cent for the latter.) But even by NetApplications’ metrics, Chrome could overtake Firefox by mid-2012.

Google has aggressively marketed Chrome with sentimental TV advertisements, including one that shows a father using YouTube, Gmail, and other Google services to create a digital time capsule for his young daughter. The ads started airing in May, and the two following months saw Chrome’s sharpest market share increases of the year. Firefox, meanwhile, has drawn criticism for a new rapid release schedule. The six-week cycle brings new features to the browser on a regular basis, but it also has caused problems with squashing bugs and breaks some add-ons.

Chrome is also stealing market share from Internet Explorer. This could be in large part due to Microsoft’s push to kill Internet Explorer 6. Both Microsoft and third-parties are encouraging companies to drop the aging browser, and while IE as a whole is in decline, Internet Explorer 9 is quickly gaining market share, especially on Windows 7 PCs.

None of these metrics take smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices into account, but the mobile market is dominated by whatever browser is preloaded on the device. Apple’s Safari 5.0 for iOS has the big lead with 46.15 per cent share, followed by 15.15 per cent for Android Browser 4.0, according to NetApplications. Firefox accounts for just 0.03 per cent of the mobile market.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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