There's been a seismic shift in web browser usage across the world. According to a report from Arts Technica, Internet Explorer (IE) has dropped below 50 percent in global browser market share for the first time in more than a decade. By extrapolating web browser data, along with mobile industry data, larger trends in the technology industry are beginning to take shape.
Internet Explorer still owns a large majority of global desktop browser market share — a whopping 52.63 percent. But, while IE may still have a stronghold on desktop computers, the desktop browser market has been steadily declining for several years. Desktop browsers currently make up 94 percent of global web traffic.
Mobile browsing, contrastingly, has been slowly increasing, snagging a six percent market share of global web traffic in just a few years. The significant change in browsing is paving way for an entirely new chapter of the browser wars.
Internet Explorer, which gained a majority market share of web browser usage in 1998, peaked its market share in 2004. Since then, IE has been declining in global browser market share. Large segments of the share have been claimed by browsers such as Opera, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. But by the time any of these IE-alternative browsers claim a majority of the desktop browser market, there may not be much of a market left.
The problem for IE and some of the other browsers heavily invested in desktop web browsing is that they do not have a mobile equivalent. For instance, Google Chrome is not actually supported on a mobile platform. Instead, Google supports a different browser — known as Android Browser — on mobile devices.
While the entire tech industry begins to shift to a different form of web usage and browsing, there seems to be no long-term plan for Google or Microsoft, both of whom have fragmented products and stagnating or declining market shares in both mobile and desktop browsers.
Apple has done an excellent job of positioning itself in the mobile browser market: Safari Mobile currently owns 62.17 percent of the of the mobile browser market share. Apple's majority browser market share is compounded by the huge operational profits of the company.
Apple accounted for 52 percent of worldwide mobile operating profits last quarter, according to Apple Insider. Operating profits are a profit earned from the company's normal core business operations, not through investments.
The huge percentage of mobile profits that Apple raked in last quarter comes at a time when iPhone sales actually dipped. The iPhone formerly made up 5.4 percent of total smartphones shipped, but that number has since fallen to 4.2 percent, as Samsung has made diligent efforts to push their smartphones last quarter.
In the past three quarters alone, Safari Mobile has climbed roughly 16 percent in mobile browser market share. Firefox and Chrome have climbed roughly 1-3 percent in desktop browser market share each, and that share is in a shrinking market.
While several of the largest tech companies in the world jockey to become consumer's preferred portal to the web, Apple has not only claimed a large majority of the fastest growing market — the mobile web browsing market — but it's also collected a large majority of profits in that industry.
Google invested in the mobile industry when it released Android OS, but there's some obvious dissonance between Chrome and Android that will eventually have to be bridged. As for Microsoft, the company is showing very few signs of replenishing its damaged brand name after releasing the poorly performing Windows Mobile OS. Compound that with IE's declining share of web browser market share, and it looks like the web browsing is about to become a one horse race.