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An Update on the Browser Wars

Internet Explorer, the veteran industry leader, grew in market shares by 0.42% during the month of July, stealing from Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Part of this growth may be attributed to Microsoft’s recent TV campaigns running since June. Microsoft thus clawed its way back over the 60% mark, though this is an overall loss from the 65.71% market share it held nearly a year ago.

Courtesy of Net Market Share

In related news, from IE9’s showcase at the Microsoft financial analyst meeting last week, CNET’s Mat Greenfield refers to the browser design as if “Chrome and Firefox had an ugly baby.” While maintaining its usual Microsoft business-like austerity, the design tried blatantly to incorporate other browser features, such as the Chrome homepage display of most visited sites, and Firefox’s download manager.

IE9 Download Manager

That does indeed sound unpleasant.

Elsewhere in the market, Apple Safari has kept a quiet, steady growth since November 2009. For the first time, it has gone past 5% in market shares. Last week, Apple released Safari 5.0.1, which includes an Extensions Gallery, a trendy feature among competitive browsers. But Safari growth may also be due to Safari Mobile for the iPhone. Safari shares tend to spike whenever a new iPhone comes on the market. Other browsers have been lackluster in mobile usage.

And In the past few months, Firefox continued to dip as Chrome gained, though both lost out to IE during July. But this has been the only hitch in Chrome’s history; otherwise, it has steadily creeped up on its major browser competitors since its inception.

I suppose the overarching trend here is that all the browsers are becoming increasingly similar. Across the board, browsers are getting sleeker, minimalist interfaces; faster performance; extensions and customizations.

When all this is done, browsers will have to come up with new innovations to stand out from the competition. But some genuinely new ideas available right now, including Mozilla’s Tab Candy, Safari’s Reader, and Opera Turbo, point to a future of smart, original internet browsing services.

And so the browser wars rage on.