Is Chrome More Popular than Firefox?

Maybe, maybe not -- it all depends on how you slice the data, who you ask and when.

When Google Chrome first debuted in 2008, there was some speculation about whether or not the new browser would surpass Mozilla Firefox. Fast forward three years of development and over 16 Chrome releases, and behold: The day that Chrome is more popular than Firefox might just be here today.

According to analytics firm StatCounter, Chrome passed Firefox for global market share in the month of November. Chrome came in at 25.69 percent while Firefox was used by 25.23 percent of users. Microsoft's IE still dominates the Global share count, coming in at 40.63 percent globally for November. Looking just at the U.S., IE is still tops at 50.66 percent, Firefox is second at 20.09 percent and Chrome is at 17.3 percent.

Browser usage data from analytics firm Net Applications paints a similar picture, though the details are different. According to Net Applications November overall global browser share data, IE is first with 52.64 percent, Firefox is second at 22.14 percent and Chrome is in third place globally with 18.18 percent.

When examined on a browser version basis, the numbers and positions change yet again. For November, the desktop browser version market share according to Net Applications places Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0 first with a 28.20 percent share, IE 9.0 in contrast holds a 10.25 percent share. Surprisingly IE 6.0 comes in at 8.03 percent ahead of IE 7.0 at 5.28 percent.

According to Net Applications, in second place by desktop browser version on a global basis is Google's Chrome 15 with a 14.58 percent share. Mozilla's top ranked browser only comes in fifth with Firefox 8.0 at a 7.27 percent share. The older Firefox 3.6 browser has a 5.28 percent share and Firefox 7 was reported at 5.22 percent.

The reason why Chrome has more usage concentrated in a single browser version has a lot to do with updates. Google employs a silent updating mechanism which automatically updates Chrome users to the latest browser version. In contrast, both Mozilla and Microsoft require users to click something in order to update to the latest browser.

In Mozilla's case, they have also moved to a new rapid development cycle that started with the Firefox 4.0 release, leaving the 3.6 branch as a longer term-supported release. Firefox 3.6 was first released in January of 2010, while Firefox 8.0 came out in early November. Mozilla is currently planning on implementing a silent updating mechanism of its own for the Firefox 10 release due out in early 2012.

While both Net Applications and StatCounter indicate that IE leads globally with Chrome and Firefox behind, there are instances where Firefox leads. According to Ian Skerrett, Director of Marketing for the open source Eclipse Foundation, at, Firefox is tops. browser stats for Nov: FF (37.7%), Chrome (32.6%), IE (20.8%), Safari (5.3%) and Opera (2.6%) Based on 3.2m visits," Skerret noted in a tweet.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: Firefox, IE, Chrome

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