Few things have changed more drastically during the web era than the relative standing of web browsers.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer at one point didn’t just rule the roost. It more or less was the roost. Those days are very much over, of course. In May, Computerworld analyzed numbers from Net Applications that revealed that Microsoft’s browser user share percentage, which covers Edge and the retired IE, was only at 23 percent. At the beginning of 2016, Google’s Chrome took over as the top browser from the combined Microsoft products. During the balance of the year, Microsoft’s browsers lost more than 22 percentage points, Net Applications estimates.
Computerworld suggests that the pain that Microsoft felt last year is continuing. It lost almost a percentage point last month. Within those numbers, it seems that Edge is struggling to stay afloat while IE is struggling to break even or do slightly better:
In the last 11 months, IE's share dropped by 41%, while Edge's increased by only 11%. On its own, IE has been under the 20% mark since January, and fell to a new low of 17.6% in May. Meanwhile, Edge stayed flat for the fourth month in a row at 5.6%. All of those ingredients cooked up a debacle.
On the other end of the spectrum is Chrome. According to Net Applications, the browser added four-tenths of a percentage point in May. Computerworld expects it to crack the 60 percent mark by August.
The relative popularity of the browsers doesn’t mean that a struggling one doesn’t have a story to tell. Three writers at IP Pro do an exhaustive comparison of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Firefox. The elements assessed were boot time, security and privacy, memory consumption, browser benchmarks, design, other functionality and cross-platform interoperability.
The browser sector faces challenges in the growing popularity of apps and the presentation problems caused by advertising. Business Insider last week reported that early next year Chrome will implement ad-filtering tools that will improve browsers’ experience. At inception, the story says, 12 formats that are considered the most disruptive by the Initial Better Ads Standards will be tackled. Eight of these are mobile and four used in desktop applications.
Though they have been superseded to some extent by apps, browsers remain vital. For instance, Guillermo Escofet, Ovum's principal analyst for Digital Media, told ZDNet that apps consume 90 percent of the time mobile users spend interacting with outside entities each month. However, they interact with more websites than apps. That alone means that browser challenges must be met.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.