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One market research firm claims Microsoft's browser now trails Google globally, but others disagree

CNN and some other sources reported on Tuesday that Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) veteran Internet Explorer (IE) browser may have been passed by Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Chrome browser.

Indeed, that's what Stat Counter, an online tracking firm reported, claiming that usage for all versions of IE was 31.94 percent of users on May 20, while Chrome was used by 32.76 percent of users.

But as 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said in his quote popularized by U.S. author Mark Twain, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
 

[Source: Stat Counter]
 
Indeed Stat Counter has long shown third-party browsers to hold a much higher market share than other market research firms.  

The latest numbers from Net Owl another research firm showed IE to have approximately 48 percent market share in April, with Firefox in second place with 19.75 percent, and Chrome in third place with 17.14 percent.  These figures are similar to Microsoft's own reported usage statistics.
 
By contrast Stat Counter reckoned IE to have 34.35 percent, Firefox to have 24.85 percent, and Chrome to have 31.09 percent near the end of April.

There are a lot of possible reasons for these discrepancies.  One possible cause is that Stat Counter may favor the kinds of sites visited by individual (home) users, who are more likely to be using a third party browser, versus a business user who is more likely to be using IE.  So don't consider IE's downgrade to second place official quite yet, but do take the reports as indication of Google Chrome's remarkable rise and increasing market traction.

Update: Wed. May 23, 2012:

A reader "Joe" helpfully chimes in:

We've looked into Chrome for our enterprise, and once we realized what what going on with the statcounters, we stopped. Global Stat's tracks HITS, where as NetmarketShare

http://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=1" rel="nofollow

and statowl seem to track unique visitors. Global Stat's seems to also not account for Chromes aggressive pre-caching of sites, but the other two do.

That could explain the cause of this unusual and inconsistent result, if accurate.

Sources: Stat Counter, Stat Owl





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