Chrome Speeds Ahead to Second Most Popular Browser

Apparently I haven’t been paying very much attention to the browser battle because this one totally caught me by surprise. It’s always been in my head that firefox was going to be the one to topple internet explorer, but Chrome has had a pretty monumental rise in popularity these past few years. Just two years ago, it was down there with Safari and Opera, but it has risen exponentially since then due to a pretty aggressive marketing campaign on Google’s part.
Statcounter.com Browser Stats - November 2011
Statcounter.com Browser Stats – November 2011 (click to enlarge)

Google’s Chrome browser is now the second most popular Web browser in the world, according to figures from various metrics firms. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is still in the lead, but Google’s strong marketing push has been credited as one reason its relatively young browser has topped Mozilla Firefox in global market share. – ECommerceTimes.com

I’ve always been a firefox man. I have all the addons that I need for web development, research, seo, and all sorts of other more advanced features that I could never get from Chrome. That being said, I’ve started using Chrome more and more lately. It’s nice to have a sleek and fast browser for things that don’t require advanced addons. Firefox is great and all, but man…it can be a resource hog at times.

What surprised me even more than Chrome taking second is that so many people are still using Internet Explorer. It has gained a reputation for being somewhat of a neanderthal when it comes to functionality for a web browser. To Microsoft’s credit, the latest version (internet explorer 9) is a big improvement in both speed and is generally more user friendly, but I think it’s too little and too late for them to really reclaim their previous monopoly.

Internet Explorer had a world of opportunity to use it’s Windows leverage to completely corner the web browser market, but somehow they managed to blow it. I’m sure if they had a time machine, they’d love to go back and do things differently, especially considering how integral browsers have been becoming in the world of mobile applications such as tablets, mobile phones, and other devices.

Who’s gonna want to adapt their technology to a crummy web browser such as Internet Explorer when there are more in demand options such as Chrome and Firefox (which I’m guessing isn’t too far behind in the campaign to conquer IE).

Here’s just a few reasons people have been abandoning Internet Explorer in droves:

  • Add-on support sucked: Third-party and often enthusiastic developers made up a group of Mozilla’s hardcore advocates and community members. These are the folks that develop add-ons, extensions and themes for the browser that now have to work overtime to incorporate changes into each new version.
  • IT Administrators couldn’t keep up: Browser share is likely to drop (obviously) if admins don’t have the time to deploy new versions of Firefox to users in their organization. It would be a relatively painless process if deployment was all they did, unfortunately they usually exercise some measure of compatibility testing, bringing me to my next point…
  • Incompatibility with websites and web applications: The bigger tragedy was felt shortly after the first few monthly releases of major version increments, as more and more websites suddenly stopped supporting Firefox. Versioning that used to increment from 3.6.1 to 3.6.2 in one month’s time were now uncharacteristically moving from 4.1 to 5.0. Programs written to support minor increments of a browser and ensure compatibility were blown away by Mozilla’s rapid-fire release schedule.
  • It really ticked people off: One of the major reasons I hadn’t switched to Chrome until recently was because Mozilla Firefox, despite all the blemishes (memory leaks, a big one), was a solid browser that didn’t follow the crowd. Community support was excellent, the rendering of websites was reliable, web applications ran as intended, add-ons were phenomenal, and most importantly, I could trust the product after years of unwavering reliability.

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