Netscape usage down to 3.4%

Netscape is once again being clobbered by rival browser Internet Explorer and now has an estimated market share of 3.4%, says internet researcher WebSideStory.

          Netscape is once again being clobbered by rival browser Internet Explorer (IE) and now has an estimated market share of 3.4%, says internet researcher WebSideStory.

          This is a steep decline from the 13% share held by Netscape at the same time last year, says Geoff Johnston, vice president of product marketing for StatMarket, WebSideStory's website design and software developer service.

          Rival browser IE, owned by Microsoft, holds an estimated 96% of the market, up from 87% a year ago, says WebSideStory, in San Diego.

          The Netscape browser, owned by AOL Time Warner, had held steady with an estimated 13% marketshare over the 14-month period leading to the release of IE 6 about a year ago.

          Prior to that release it appeared that Netscape had found its "resistance point," Johnston says. But effective and aggressive marketing on the part of Microsoft, IE's availability with Windows and the failure of new versions of Netscape to win over users helped IE grab an even larger share of former Netscape users, he says.

          "Something snapped over the last 12 months. Where there was this sort of stable balance before, now it has completely spiraled down for Netscape," Johnston says.

          IE 6 started stealing marketshare from Netscape soon after it was launched and within six months had pushed Netscape's share down to 7% in late March, according to WebSideStory.

          WebSideStory's figures were compiled independently based on a random daily sample of 20 million visitors to thousands of websites that use its HitBox visitor analysis service. According to data from Monday, 3.4% of the visitors were using a Netscape browser, 96% using IE and less than 1% were using the Opera browser from Opera Software. From day to day the sample shows some fluctuation, but over the past several weeks Netscape usage hasn't been higher than 4%, Johnston says.

          Despite the bleak figures for Netscape, it still holds a usage share of more than 7% among web users in Switzerland, and in Germany, Canada and the United States its market share is more than the 3.4% global market share estimate.

          "There are pockets of resistance in certain countries, but unless AOL makes a move soon, Netscape may find itself battling Opera for the last 1 to 2% of the market," Johnston says.

          Netscape announced a preview release of its Netscape 7.0 web browser in May. AOL Time Warner also has said it was considering dropping IE from its America Online internet service in favor of technology developed by its Netscape Communications subsidiary and open-source software contributors.

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