New stats on Firefox market share good for Google, bad for Microsoft, less clear for Yahoo!

Includes: GOOG, MSFT, YHOO
by: David Jackson

Janco Associates released its First Quarter 2005 Browser Market Share Study showing that Firefox now has 4.5% market share and Microsoft Internet Explorer's market share has now fallen to 84.9%. But the situation for IE might be worse than that.

In his write-up of the report, ClickZ's Rob McGann says:

According to Rafael Ebron, a Mozilla spokesperson, Firefox's penetration into various sectors of the digerati, or early-adopting members of the Internet elite, is even more widespread.

"Among traffic leading news sites, we estimate that Firefox has an approximate penetration of 11 percent," Ebron said. "Throughout the blogger community, it's perhaps as high as 35 percent."

That suggests that Firefox should see further market share gains. Early-adopters are, by definition, a lead indicator of adoption by wider groups. 35% market share among bloggers suggests that IE could be in for considerable market share loss in the future unless Microsoft does something about it. McGann recognizes that possibility, however, by stating that:

Not all analysts see the same rosy picture for Firefox on the horizon. According to a recent study by Gartner, if and when Microsoft chooses to respond to the threat posed by Mozilla's new browser, it will probably easily regain any market share it lost in recent months. Firefox's recent, impressive growth is consequently "not inherently sustainable," the report concludes.

Firefox market share gains have strong implications for the search market, probably positive for Google and negative for Yahoo!. Yahoo!'s recent release of a Firefox tool bar, however, may improve its position.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is feeling the heat. eWeek reports that Microsoft recently held "a secret Webcast with some of its closest partners to discuss ways in which the company might improve its Internet Explorer browser and customer confidence in the platform". Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch comments:

We're betting we'll see one or more IE add-ons, delivered via Windows Marketplace, sooner rather than later.

YHOO chart below.