first Netscape, then Internet Explorer and finally Chrome, this has been the evolution since 1996.
Those of us who have been connected to the internet since its inception have lived a particular battle: that of web browsers, which have always been the gateway to the network of networks.
More than two decades have passed since the beginnings of some browsers that have evolved and dominated the market. From the prominence of Netscape we pass to the absolute dominance of Internet Explorer. Now it is Chrome that dominates the market with a Firefox that had its chance, and we wonder if there are options for another browser to change the current landscape.
Netscape dominated, but not for long
One of the members of the Data is Beautiful community on Reddit explained how he had compiled the data he had found in OneStat, The Counter, W3Counter and StatCounter to make a surprising and eye-catching animation about the evolution of these web browsers from 1996 to 2019. It is It is important to note that these are desktop web browsers, and mobile web browsers are not counted.
The animated result, made with ChartJS, It is striking for showing that evolution that the great dominators of the market have had.
It all begins in the third quarter of 1996, where the data collected already showed that by then Netscape was the absolute dominator on the market ahead of Internet Explorer and that legendary Mosaic.
At that time the number of Internet users was small, and according to the data collected by Our World in Data that number barely exceeded 50 million users worldwide. From there, however, the internet hatched.
The second king of the internet was Internet Explorer
The most benefited from this, at least initially, was Microsoft, which had the (controversial) success of making Internet Explorer the default browser for Windows 95 and later versions of your operating system. Forcing the use of your browser would end up costing Microsoft a fine of 561 million euros in March 2013, but by then the landscape had already changed radically.
In fact, Internet Explorer had dominated the market for more than 15 years. It surpassed Netscape Navigator in the fourth quarter of 1998, and its growth was brutal with Windows 98 and especially with Windows XP, which integrated the (now remembered as) infamous Internet Explorer 6.
In 2001, a navigator entered the scene that has been trying to fight the giants for almost two decades. Firefox picked up the Netscape baton, and he did it with an open vision and that bet on the standards that were appearing globally. That was a surprise, especially considering that Microsoft maintained absolute market dominance with over 90% market share.
Microsoft’s browser would reach 95% in 2004 while Apple tried to make its own bet with Safari, but then a singular event occurred: Firefox began to grow remarkably. It did so since the second half of 2004 and did not stop until the beginning of 2010. Then the Mozilla browser became almost one in three computers and conquered just over 31% share.
Google sweeps Chrome
Microsoft had been steadily losing share since the middle of the decade, but Firefox was not the real threat. Opera, which tried to propose a valid alternative in that decade, never succeeded too much. The one that came out of nowhere was Chrome, the Google browser that began to show its claws in 2009 and that gradually became the favorite choice of PC and laptop users.
The conquest was dizzying. Chrome managed to surpass Firefox in the first quarter of 2012, just 3 years after its creation, and before the end of the year it had already surpassed Internet Explorer. Chrome stole the wallets of its two competitors significantly, but the fall of Internet Explorer was even more striking considering how it had swept for years in this segment.
The arrival of Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge did not help the Redmond company: Firefox outperformed Internet Explorer in Q3 2015 while Chrome continued to grow steadily. In fact, almost all of them lost share in favor of Chrome, which in recent years has grown somewhat more slowly but almost always steadily.
Today Chrome’s share is around 70%while Firefox barely reaches 10% market share despite notable efforts like those they did with Firefox Quantum.
The question, of course, is if there are chances that this photo will change in the short or medium term. It does not seem easy, especially considering that Firefox and other less popular alternatives – Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, there are several in that fight – have been doing interesting things in this segment for some time.
Microsoft will try again with the new Microsoft Edge, which this time it will be based on Chromium and that it will thus correct many of the disadvantages that we saw in its predecessor. For example, the support of extensions, but it is not clear that that is enough to take away from Chrome its particular center in this segment.