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Internet Explorer Loses European Share to Firefox

Many people have predicted that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) would lose ground to Mozilla’s Firefox. Today it is official in Europe.

German Web advertising firm Adtech AG today reported that Firefox has grown to more than 5.5 percent share and Internet Explorer has dropped below 90 percent in Europe for the first time in five years.

The number of European Firefox users doubled in the third quarter, according to Adtech, while shares of all IE versions are dipping. IE 6.x posted 79.62 usage, 1.61 percentage points less than the end of August. Meanwhile, version 5.5 lost 1.21 points during the same period to total 5.15 percent. IE 5.x still captures 4.7 percent.

Rivaling Microsoft

Firefox is the second most popular Web browser in Europe, with 5.51 percent of the market share at the end of November, according to Adtech. Its studies show that Firefox adds one percentage point of market share every two weeks.

Other Mozilla browser versions have grabbed 2.5 percent of the European market. Opera has secured 1.01 percent and Netscape rounds out the list with a mere 0.92 percent.

Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox told the E-Commerce Times that Microsoft has created an unprecedented opportunity for competitors like Firefox.

“Currently there is no real IE development apart from the operating system,” Wilcox said. “That means if Microsoft doesn’t update Windows, it doesn’t update the browser. But that doesn’t mean the browser motif shouldn’t advance. That’s an opportunity for competitors to exploit.”

The Security Question

Fewer updates means fewer security enhancements, and Wilcox said Firefox has hit a home run with consumers by taking advantage of security issues surrounding IE.

“We haven’t seen a bad exploit of a browser for some time,” Wilcox said. “But even warnings about problems that need to be patched or that could be exploited create fear, uncertainty and doubt about IE and whether it’s really safe to use.”

One area where IE still has an advantage is with online advertising. Adtech reports that Firefox users are less likely to accept online advertising, with only .11 percent of Firefox users clicking through as compared to 0.53 percent of IE 5.5 users. Analysts point to Firefox’s built-in pop-up blocker as a likely reason.

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