Once upon a time, that little blue "E" logo was practically synomous with the Internet itself. Double-clicking the Internet Explorer icon was, for so many people, the only gateway to the World Wide Web, aside from Netscape Navigator.
Today, the desktop browser landscape is very different. Netscape's long gone, and Internet Explorer has other competitors. Its fiercest, without a doubt, is Google's Chrome.
As IE's market share has slowly dropped, Chrome's has quickly risen. Recently, the two trend lines crossed one another, and Chrome became the most widely used desktop browser, according to StatCounter.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Chrome has the might of one of tech's biggest and most influential corporations behind it. Yet so does Internet Explorer.
What happened? So much of IE's dominance was due to the fact that for years, it came as the default browser with the world's most widely used desktop operating system. For a while, it was a relatively stagnant product that many users either tolerated or passively used without even an awareness that other options were out there, or that loving a Web browser was even possible.
Internet Explorer has improved. After years of reliably serving as the primary source of headaches and nightmares for just about every Web designer alive, IE has matured into something more innovative and standards-compliant than it used to be. Is it too little too late? Maybe. A bigger question comes to mind, though.
Desktop Browser Market Share: Does It Even Matter Anymore?
Does it even matter who's winning this battle when the battlefield is morphing so dramatically? The desktop was, for many years, the only way for consumers to access the Web. Today we have smart TVs, smartphones, smart cars and tablets. And this is just the beginning.
Most crucially, smartphones and tablets have become the primary way that many people access the Web. While Windows Phone has promise, Microsoft is not a huge player in the mobile browser. Firefox's Fennec is but a blip on the radar. Instead, Apple and Google are duking it out for smartphone dominance, with their default Web browsers serving as the primary means of connecting to the mobile Web for millions of people.
Tablets are a happy medium between desktops and phones when it comes to browsing the Web. For now, Apple rules that space with its iPad. While the device is not yet a complete substitute for a laptop, the tablet market is brand new and has a lot of evolving to do.
Of all the biggest players in the desktop browser market, Google stands the best chance of remaining competitive in the tablet space. Rumors of Chrome for iOS may or may not have merit, but ultimately it won't matter much as long as Apple refuses to allow users to change the default browser on the iPad.