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Web browsers that razed: first Netscape, then Internet Explorer and finally Chrome

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

Those of us who have been connected to the Internet since its inception have experienced a particular battle: that of web browsers, which have always been the gateway to the network of networks.

More than two decades have passed since the beginning of the journey of the web browsers that have evolved and dominated the market. From the prominence of Netscape we pass to the Internet Explorer absolute domain Now it’s Chrome that dominates the market with a Firefox that had its chance, and we wonder if there are options for another browser to change the current landscape.

Netscape dominoes, but not for long

One of the members of the Data is Beautiful community of Reddit explained how he had compiled the data he had found in OneStat, The Counter, W3Counter and StatCounter to make a surprising and striking animation about the evolution of these web browsers from 1996 to 2019. It is Importantly, these are desktop web browsers, and mobile web browsers are not counted.

The animated result, made with ChartJS, is striking for showing that evolution that the great market dominators have had.

It all starts in the third quarter of 1996, where the data collected already showed that by then Netscape was the absolute dominator of the market ahead of Internet Explorer and that legendary Mosaic.

At that time the number of Internet users was reduced, and according to the data collected by Our World in Data that number barely exceeded 50 million users worldwide. From there, however, the Internet hatched.

The second king of the Internet was Internet Explorer

The most benefited from it, at least initially, was Microsoft, who had the (controversial) success of making Internet Explorer the default browser of Windows 95 and later versions of its operating system. Forcing the use of your browser would end up costing Microsoft a fine of 561 million euros in March 2013, but by then the landscape had already changed dramatically.

In fact, Internet Explorer had dominated the market for more than 15 years. It surpassed Netscape Navigator in the fourth quarter of 1998, and its growth was brutal with Windows 98 and especially with Windows XP, which integrated the infamous Internet Explorer 6.

In 2001 a navigator entered the scene that has been trying to fight the giants for almost two decades. Firefox picked up the witness of Netscape, and did so with an open vision and committed to the standards that were appearing globally. That was a surprise, especially considering that Microsoft maintained an absolute market dominance with more than 90% market share.

Microsoft’s browser would reach 95% in 2004 while Apple tried to make its own bet with Safari, but then there was a singular fact: Firefox began to grow remarkably. He did it since the second half of 2004 and did not stop doing it until the beginning of 2010. Then Mozilla’s browser became almost one in three teams and conquered just over 31% of the quota.

Google sweeps with Chrome

Microsoft has been losing share steadily since the mid-decade, but Firefox was not the real threat. Opera, which tried to propose a valid alternative in that decade, never managed to curdle too much. The one that came from nowhere was Chrome, the Google browser that began to show its grip in 2009 and that became the favorite option for PC and laptop users, little by little.

The conquest was vertiginous. Chrome managed to beat Firefox in the first quarter of 2012, just 3 years after its creation, and before the end of the year it had already surpassed Internet Explorer. Chrome stole the wallet from its two competitors significantly, but the fall of Internet Explorer was even more striking considering how it had swept for years in this segment.

The arrival of Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge did not help Redmond’s company: Firefox outperformed Internet Explorer in the third quarter of 2015 while Chrome continued to grow steadily. In fact almost everyone lost share in favor of Chrome, which in recent years has grown somewhat slower but almost always sustained.

Today Chrome’s share is around 70%, while Firefox barely reaches 10% market share despite notable efforts such as those made with Firefox Quantum.

The question, of course, is whether there is a chance that this photo will change in the short or medium term. It doesn’t seem easy, especially considering that Firefox and other less popular alternatives – Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, there are several in that fight – have been doing interesting things in this segment for some time.

Microsoft will try again with the new Microsoft Edge, which this time will be based on Chromium and that will correct many of the disadvantages we saw in its predecessor. For example, the support of extensions, but it is not at all clear that that is enough to take Chrome its particular center in this segment.

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