Market Share: Advance for Mozilla, Setback for Microsoft

Dec 03, 2008

Market watcher Net Applications has found in their recent statistics that Microsoft's representation in operating systems has fallen to below 90% of the market. Meanwhile, Mozilla's Firefox is rising to a more than 20% share in the browser market.

Of course, a 90% chunk of the market still seems like a lot, but it's bad news for Microsoft, which is used to having more than the lion's share. According to Net Applications, there could be a correlation between operating systems and politics. Their prognosis for the U.S. elections in November: Mac users are more likely to vote Democrat.

The elections might also have been the impetus behind browser market share. Around November 4th Firefox usage steadily increased, remaining high throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, a fact Net Applications attributes to the large number of household Internet users. The market share analysts observed that individual Web users are more likely than organizations to use Firefox. This, they say, is material for a further study.

The California company has been researching operating system market share since October 2004. At that time Windows had 96.4% of the market. At the end of 2006 the share stood at 93.86%. By the beginning of 2008 the share had fallen to 91.5% and it now stands at 89.62%.

While Windows experienced an almost 2 percentage point drop during 2008, Linux more than doubled its share over the last two years from 0.37% to 0.83%. The big winner, however, is Apple, whose OS X rose from a 5.4% share two years ago to 8.87%. These trends to the detriment of Microsoft have been corroborated by European researchers. Many of the trends are a direct result of the popularity of the new mini-laptops running Linux.

Microsoft's dominance in web browsers also seems to be waning. According to Net Applications, the free Firefox browser's share rose beyond the 20% mark in November. Mozilla CEO John Lilly was overjoyed: "Reaching 20 percent worldwide market share is a significant milestone for Firefox and Mozilla... that just a few years ago most would have considered impossible." The market observers gauged the one-month growth from October to November of 0.8 percentage points as being "much higher than average" and expect the trend to continue. Additionally, the Chrome browser from Google showed a sudden rise to a 0.78% share soon after its introduction in August and is creeping steadily toward 1%.

Net Applications compiles its data from visits to its network of sites, about 160 million visits per month, which is how frequently they post their statistics. The company also classifies more than 430 search engines in most parts of the world.

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