IE usage share continues its very gradual decline, not so much in Europe

The growing trend of Windows users at home trying alternative Web browsers continues, with data from the world's two leading browser analytics services suggesting that Google's front-page advertising for its Chrome browser is working as intended.

This morning, analytics service NetApplications trumpeted that, for the first time, it projects worldwide usage share for all versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer combined (IE6 through IE8 being the most active) at just below 60% in its estimates for the first time, at 59.95%. That represents a decline averaging at about 0.8% per month since last June. The service projects Google Chrome as having picked up the lion's share of converts, with usage share having risen worldwide to 6.73%, climbing over half a point per month since December.

The general trend was confirmed by analytics firm StatCounter, which had been projecting IE usage share worldwide at below 60% since July 31, 2009. (The difference between the two services may reflect the companies' respective customer bases for their Web trackers: NetApplications caters more to enterprises, StatCounter towards consumers). StatCounter tracked worldwide use of IE last Friday at 53.84%, with Mozilla Firefox versions trending up at 32.78%, and Chrome nicely higher at just below 9%.

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Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

If you're thinking last March's introduction in Europe of the browser choice screen for Internet Explorer users had much to do with this, you'd be wrong. StatCounter's breakdown of trends shows the US market played much more of a role in tipping IE's scales down than Europe.

After the choice screen was introduced March 1, the day-by-day graph of Europeans' browser use showed IE's Mondays -- the day of the week when IE usage rises most -- to have risen slightly, peaking at 46.39% on March 22. Since that time, though, IE usage has resumed a slow tick downward, to 45.22% on April 26. Firefox use during that same time stayed flat, failing to break the 40% mark. However, it's still noteworthy that Firefox use continues to peak during the weekends when IE use falls to about 42%, indicating that at-home installations for the top two browsers may be about dead-even in Europe.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

Chrome usage in Europe has also risen during that period, but not as briskly as elsewhere, coming close to 9% last Sunday according to StatCounter, compared to just under 8% since the choice screen introduction. Still, there's indications that Google's front-page ads for Chrome may be a more effective inducement for trying other brands, than the EU's browser choice screen.

Microsoft spent a good part of today spinning today's numbers, pointing out that NetApplications projected the latest IE8 as rising in usage share faster than Google Chrome. Of course, almost all the IE8 users were upgrading from IE7 rather than changing brands. Again in Europe, as StatCounter's breakdown today shows, uptake of IE8 has been almost flat since March 21, rising between Monday peaks at almost negligible rates. Usage share of IE8 and Firefox 3.6 in Europe have been tied since the second week of April at just over 27%.

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