For the second time in 14 months, Google's Chrome browser is close to overtaking Mozilla's Firefox as the second most used desktop browser in the world. The last time, in July 2012, Chrome came within 0.1% of Firefox's marketshare, but was unable to keep its gains. In fact, Net Applications, the organization whose data is most used for these stats, erroneously called Chrome winner Al Gore-style.
This time around, however, it is a battle over which browser is losing less market and not about who is gaining more. In July, Firefox lost a whopping 11% of its market and Chrome had a minor gain to 17.8%, up 2 points, which is its highest rank since October. Between October and July, Chrome had seen a rollercoaster of ups and downs, never staying as steady as Firefox.
Almost all of Chrome and Firefox's losses have been in favor of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, whose versions 9 and 10, both available on Windows 7, have seen a resurgence of sorts. IE has taken an almost 3 point climb, landing at 56.6 percent of all desktop browsing. This growth has been a fairly consistent growth since its low at the end of 2011, bottoming out at 51.9.
If the recent trends were to continue, Chrome would overtake Firefox this month for the second spot. If you look at the past 12 months, however, the handoff will have to wait until April 2014.
It is important to note how these stats are calculated. Net Applications calculates their usage based on unique visitors on standard desktop computers. This means Windows, MacOS and standard builds of Linux are counted; Windows Phone, iOS and custom Linux builds, such as Android, webOS and Firefox OS are not counted. In combining mobile browsing into the mix, Google takes a 2 point lead on Firefox.
StatCounter, however, calculates based on page views and, based on that information, Chrome is the top browser, even ahead of Internet Explorer. This indicates that the majority of users spend significantly less time on the web than those who use Chrome browsers on any platform. It is important to know, as targeting software to a browser requires a focus on who your userbase is.