Monday, August 22, 2005

Browsing for a standard

“In today’s multi-platform environment, locking your end-users into using Internet Explorer is an issue.”

This challenge came from one of our users earlier today. Last year, we decided we were not going to be everything to everybody and we were only going to certify our applications on Internet Explorer (IE). Thanks to the aforementioned challenge to my decidedly conventional thinking about IE, I figured maybe it was time to take another look at the trends within the browser market space to see if the decision needed to be reconsidered.

Here are my findings: IE continues to dominate the browser space. XP is the most popular operating system--and most users are displaying greater than 800x600 pixels with a color depth of greater than 65k colors.

According to the W3 consortium, the major browsers in use today are:

  • Internet Explorer (IE)
  • Firefox
  • Mozilla
  • Opera
  • Netscape
  • America Online

The stats are as follows (Source: W3 consortium):

What is interesting is to see the strong growth of FireFox until April of '05--followed by a decline from April to June. Should we conclude that the growth of FireFox is complete, or at least slowing down? I think so, although there could be a variety of factors behind this decline--not the least of which is the inevitable backlash within corporate IT departments against having to certify and support two or more browsers. I know this certainly impacted ForeFox use in our organization.

Also, it is important to look at the continued growth of IE. This is a browser showing little willingness to give up market share. FireFox has generated a lot of excitement and a respectable market share, but its slice of the pie is still is less than 10% and seems to be stagnating. And Netscape is dying a slow death and Opera is still pretty irrelevant.

Again, the reasons for IE's growth are unclear, given the general backlash against Micrsoft's somewhat draconian "selling" of IE to a sometimes-unwilling market. Nevertheless, the numbers don't lie; IE is becoming even more dominant over the other browser platforms in 2005.

My conclusion, based on these findings, is that IE is a standard platform that we should continue to focus upon. I think the cross-browser challenge is still there, but IE--and it’s growing market share--continue to make this to less and less of an issue. (FireFox has shown that there is still interest in the market for alternative browser solutions, but not enough to take share away from the “big gorilla.")

I think the market share numbers for IE among our customer base may in fact be much higher. I don't have data to support that, but my gut tells me the institutional bankers, lenders and brokers are not a hotbed of FireFox installations.

So given all that, we will continue to watch the browser space and be prepared to adjust as needed. But for now our decision to focus on IE will stand!


At 7:02 AM, Blogger Video Editor said...

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At 8:04 AM, Blogger vnr406 said...

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At 6:13 AM, Blogger mondegreen said...

I still miss FireFox at work! (sniff)


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