It's no surprise that Lifehacker readers have taken to Google's Chrome browser in great numbers since its launch around 18 months ago. But what is surprising is that Chrome's growth appears to have come at the expense not of its most obvious competitor Firefox, but from disgruntled Internet Explorer users.
Much of the discussion of Chrome around these parts has centred on whether it can become a viable competitor to Firefox by running across multiple platforms and adding extension capability. Chrome has made great strides in all those areas, but a look at the browser usage figures from Lifehacker Australia readers suggests that many Chrome adopters have moved there not from Firefox, but from Internet Explorer.
In the month after Chrome was launched in 2008, Firefox easily dominated as the browser of choice for Lifehacker readers, accounting for 50.05% of all traffic. Internet Explorer ranked second with 32.08%, followed by Safari with 9.21% and Chrome with 5.53%.
Over the last 30 days, the figures show an interesting shift from those 2008 numbers. Firefox remains the top dog, but its share has dropped to 45.72%. Internet Explorer still ranks second, but now only accounts for 19.59% of visitors — and Chrome is nipping hard at its heels with 17.33%. Safari has also increased its share to 13.47%.
While we can't directly connect IE's decline with Chrome's growth, it's clear that Chrome is growing in popularity while Internet Explorer is proving a less popular choice. Firefox has shrunk its share slightly, but still remains well in front of any other competitors. While Apple has aggressively (that is, annoyingly) worked to bundle Safari with iTunes, I'd still presume its improved numbers reflect a growth in Mac usage more than anything else.
Obviously, Lifehacker readers aren't representative of the broader Internet population, and many readers may well be using more than one browser. (Lifehacker's audience has also grown over that period, so the total number of users for any browser hasn't necessarily declined, even if its relative market share has.) Nonetheless, the data does suggest that competition in the browser space remains fierce, and that no browser development community can afford to rest on its laurels.