Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Browser Wars

Firefox is on the rise. The latest figures on global usage from OneStat show that Mozilla Firefox has 12.93% (up 1.14%), while Microsoft IE has 83.05% (down 2.12%). The fall in IE is greater than the rise in Firefox, indicating that other browsers (Opera? Safari?? Netscape???) are also gaining slightly.

Statistics for selected countries are published, so we can see which of these countries are most (UK, France, Netherlands) and least (Germany, Australia) loyal to Microsoft.

JP (Confused of Calcutta) sees these statistics as a leading indicator of a culture’s willingness and capacity to adopt opensource. For my part, I don't think that Firefox's being opensource is the most significant differentiator between IE and Firefox. I think the likely explanation for the rise of Firefox involves a number of other factors, including the widespread perception of Microsoft as a software monoculture, concerns about security holes in IE (including strong warnings from US CERT), some cool features of Firefox, and the current popularity of Apple (partly due to iTunes). Given these factors, perhaps it is not the rise of Firefox that needs to be explained, but the continued dominance of IE. We'd need some detailed statistics to untangle these factors, not just a few headline percentages.

In Episode 1 of the Browser Wars, as we all know, Microsoft beat Netscape. If Firefox is ever to overtake IE in Episode 2 of the Browser Wars, Firefox will need some strong alliances - not just Linux, not just opensource.

In any case, as JP implies, the browser wars are not going to be won or lost in Germany and the UK, but in the growing economies: China, India, Russia and Brazil.

Wikipedia: Browser Wars
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