Saturday, March 27, 2010

Internet Explorer losing ground

The world’s most-used internet browser, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, is on a steady decline in India, reveals a study by Irish metrics firm StatCounter. IE, as it’s known, has lost almost 20% market share in India in the past two years, even as Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox make great strides.

According to StatCounter, the percentage of PCs running Internet Explorer in India dropped from close to 70% in 2008 to about 51%, currently . The drop was despite an absence of any regulation by a trade commission , unlike that mandated by European Union on Microsoft, this year.

In Europe, Internet Explorer lost three times more share this month than usual in some European countries since the company was forced to mandate a ballot screen by EU in its Windows 7 operating system.

The ballot screen offers a choice between Mozilla’s Firefox, Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Opera and others, by displaying icons of rival browsers.

Worldwide, Internet Explorer’s market share has suddenly started dipping, and rivals Chrome’s and Firefox’s rising, from this month, following the EU regulation. Worldwide IE has a market share of about 55% followed by Firefox’s 31%, Chrome at 7% and Safari at about 4% currently. 

According to StatCounter, the percentage of systems running the browser dropped in several countries , since March 1. India does not have any such mandate but still the erosion in market share has been steady. Besides security, the decline is also due to slow connectivity in a country already plagued by slow internet speed. Of the 71 million internet users in India, just 8 million have a broadband connection. 

Replying to an ET query a Microsoft spokesperson said, “PC manufacturers and users around the world can install any browser they want on PCs today.” When asked about plans of implementation of a similar browser ballot in India, Microsoft said issues in the Internet Explorer case have already been the subject of extensive legal action in several countries. “Each country has developed their own legal solutions. We are committed to complying with the laws and regulations of other jurisdictions around the world.” 

Meanwhile, in developed markets like Germany, Firefox has already beaten IE while in France it has lost close to 6% to Firefox and Google’s Chrome since January, this year. 

Rivals Chrome and Opera are upbeat about the change. “We believes believe user choice is important because that’s what stimulates innovation ,” says Vinay Goel, products head, Google India, commenting on the introduction of browser ballot in European market. 

Browsers are important to an internet company’s revenues as one can add monetisable websites and applications through it. It acts as a gateway to the internet. Any application installed at a popular gate is bound to generate revenues.

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