Firefox 3 chipping away Safari market share, summer browsing patterns reverse IE decline

Posted by Christian Zibreg

Chicago (IL) – Two days ago, we posted an article on the trend that Firefox, on a daily basis, has been exceeding a market share of 20% more often than ever before in July. Net Applications today published the July result earlier today, which does not show quite so dramatic numbers.  Apparently, IE7 reversed its decline into a marginal sequential growth most likely due to a change in audience mix during the summer months, while Firefox grows further on the heels of the recent Firefox 3 release, chipping away market share from Safari.

The biggest surprise in Net Applications’ July browser survey is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which saw a marginal growth over previous months. The bounce-back also slowed, which saw its share drop slightly.

In July, IE recorded a 73.02% share, up marginally from 73.01% the month before. It appears that many IE users made the switch from IE6 to IE7 during the month as IE6 lost 0.64 points over the previous month, but IE7 gained 0.65 points in the same period. Another contributing factor that worked for IE market share are most likely changes in summer browsing patterns and a slightly different audience in NetApplications’ survey pool, which consists of about 160 million users.

Firefox' share of the market throughout July was 19.22%, up 0.19% from 19.03% in June. If we compare changes in FF2 and FF3 market shares during the June-July period, we notice that FF3 gained 3.36%, while Firefox 2 lost 3.11%. The combined FF2 drop and FF3 growth suggest that more FF2 users who downloaded FF3 actually choose the software as their default browser, ditching FF2. The obvious conclusion is that Firefox was successful at chipping away share from other browsers, most notably Apple's Safari (which showed a 0.17 point decline in July), Opera (0.04 point decline), and other web browsers, possible earlier Firefox versions (0.16 point decline).

As TG Daily previously reported, Firefox recently was climbing above 20% market share more often on particular days. Since Firefox 3 is little over six weeks on the market, it is to be expected that many users install the software to testdrive new features. However, while it is apparent that Firefox has been gaining share and the trend curve is heading up, the early state of the browser may skew the result in favor of Mozilla and it is too early to even guess what percentage of those who downloaded Firefox 3 will actually continue to use the browser on a daily basis.

When Microsoft releases IE8 later this year, the same effect could work towards an increase of IE market share. In any case, Firefox has come a long way to close in on 20% market share market, which would be a huge milestone for Mozilla.

Apple's Safari browser took the third spot in July with 6.14% market share, down 0.17 points from 6.31% market share in June. The 0.17 loss is mainly the result of a 0.21 point decline of Safari 3, while Safari 3.1 gained 0.11 points. The overall decline comes after months of growth, which suggests that Safari was especially vulnerable during the Firefox 3 launch period.

The release of the iPhone 3G on July 11 has brought large gains in web browsing share for the device. Prior to launch, iPhone usage share had leveled off, but has since resumed its upward trend now. For instance, on June 1 0.19% of users were browsing the web using an iPhone. Following June 11, when the iPhone 3G was introduced, that share increased to 0.22% (recorded yesterday).

Both Netscape and Opera are currently listed at 0.69% share.