Home Firefox Continues Long March to the Top

Firefox Continues Long March to the Top

Last month when we reported that MySpace controls 3/4th of social network traffic one commenter, Jon Gos, wrote, “As Google or Microsoft will tell you, once you’re king of the hill in one area, it’s incredibly hard to get displaced. Unless of course you make some royal mistakes like Friendster did, whoever’s got the momentum usually sets the pace and right now MySpace still controls the game.”

Indeed, MySpace’s market share was virtually unchanged since January, and has long been over 70%. But there is one battle between dominant incumbent and fiery upstart in which the incumbent looks more vulnerable each day: Internet Explorer vs. Firefox.

In many instances where a single players dominates the landscape, it is hard to see anyone cracking their control any time soon. Google vs. Yahoo! and Live, YouTube vs. every other video site, even with Linux and OS X making gains in the operating system market, Windows’ dominance seems safe for years to come. But in the browser world, where Internet Explorer has dominated for almost 10 years, things are looking less concrete.

ComputerWorld is reporting that Firefox is set to hit 20% market share next month according to metrics firm Net Applications. In some communities, Firefox is already well beyond the 20% mark. W3Counter’s global web stats, for example, puts Firefox usage at closer to 29% and over 50% of ReadWriteWeb readers use Firefox.

Internet Explorer’s popularity peaked in 2003 or 2004, depending on whose data you look at, with a browser share of between 91% and 96%. Now, IE’s market share has slipped below 80% by most metrics. Firefox, meanwhile, has grown steadily year-over-year from under 1% in 2004, to around 20% today.

And Firefox isn’t resting on their laurels. The Mozilla Foundation is planning a major release push for Firefox 3, which is expected to drop this month. Firefox is gearing up to set a world download record by encouraging all 175 million users of the browser to upgrade in a single day. They’re actually encouraging users to host download day parties, with nearly 200 planned already even without a firm release date.

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