updated 10:55 am EDT, Wed March 21, 2012
Spike sees Chrome get one-day browser lead
A brief if historic milestone in web browsers occurred this weekend as Google Chrome temporarily overtook Microsoft's Internet Explorer in usage, StatCounter found Wednesday. For one day, March 18, Chrome had 32.71 percent of traffic to IE's 32.5 percent. A rise in share from Brazil, India, and Russia was credited for the sudden position swap.
Internet Explorer still had a sustained lead over longer periods, but CEO Aodhan Cullen noted that there was a worldwide trend towards Chrome rapidly closing the gap each weekend. It suggested that Chrome was now at a virtual dead heat with IE in personal usage, as IE's edge appeared to be coming only from users forced to run it at work that switched to Google's browser once they were home.
The data showed similar if less pronounced spikes for Safari, as those with Macs at home got online. Firefox and Opera, however, were relatively untouched over the same space of time. Opera's small share leaves it less prone to rapid changes, but Firefox's relatively flat performance didn't have as much immediate explanation.
For Microsoft, the position change could be a minor cause for alarm as well as a reflection of its change in importance. Although it still has a near-monopoly in desktop operating systems, it has lost much of its dominance in browsers as faster, more feature-capable browsers like Chrome have taken hold. The reduced dependency on offline desktop software as web apps take hold has helped drive users to improved browsers.