Firefox may not be the world's second-most-popular web browser anymore. According to data released by StatCounter, Google Chrome overtook Firefox for the first time ever in November, squeezing ahead with a slim, 0.46-point lead.
The firm's research arm StatCounter Global Stats reports that Chrome took 25.69% of the worldwide market (up from 4.66% in November 2009) compared to Firefox's 25.23%. Microsoft's Internet Explorer still maintains a strong lead globally with 40.63%.
Those are global numbers. In the United States alone, StatCounter says Firefox is holding on to its second-place spot, with a 20.09% usage share to Chrome's 17.3%. Internet Explorer is purportedly more popular Stateside than worldwide, too; its U.S. usage share is just over 50%.
Either way, Chrome has enjoyed an impressive uptick in popularity since its first public beta release in September 2008. That meteoric rise has had quite an effect on the competition, too. Chrome's bare-bones, tabs-on-top user interface layout has been emulated by IE, Firefox, and Opera. Also, Mozilla adopted a similarly rapid release cycle for Firefox earlier this year.
As TR's resident web designer, I'm not as excited as I used to be about alternative browsers beating IE. Microsoft did a good job of shaking the IE team from its stupor a few years ago, and since then, each new IE release has been better than the last. The latest one, IE9, looks slick, renders pages quickly, and complies nicely with web standards. Of course, if Chrome and Firefox hadn't been nipping at IE's heels, that might never have been the case.