Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser now trounces rival Netscape Communications' Communicator and Navigator products as the browser of choice among end-users, according to the most recent survey from market analyst group Zona Research.
But browsers have become such a minor part of the Internet market that the browser war is no longer worth covering, according to Zona, which said its just-completed October 1999 survey will be its last.
Microsoft's IE is the primary choice for 64% of respondents to the October survey, compared to 36% for Navigator. In April, the figures were 59:41 in Microsoft's favor, while as recently as October 1998, Navigator held a 60:40 lead. In Zona's first survey, conducted in January 1996, Navigator held a 71% share, and IE held just 2%, with the market also containing long-forgotten brands such as Quarterdeck Mosaic, Wollongong Emissary, and NCD Mariner.
At that time, there were nine players on the browser frontier battling for a slice of a US$200 million market; as the dust has settled almost four years later, two have emerged as the dominant players for a zero-dollar market, Zona said.
As the market has coalesced around IE and Navigator, companies have increasingly implemented browser policies, designating one or the other as the official corporate browser. In January 1996, 33% of companies had an official browser policy, and those that did overwhelmingly chose Navigator.
In the October 1999 survey, 73% of the companies surveyed said they had a browser policy, with IE favored by a 69:31 ratio. In the 69% standardised on IE, 31% favored IE 5.x products compared to 36% on the older IE 4.x, and 2% on IE3.x, according to Zona figures.
Netscape was acquired by America Online Inc. (AOL) in a deal finalized in February of this year. The deal coincided with a shift away from the importance of the browser technology to the content on the Internet, according to Zona.
Zona Research, based in Redwood City, California, can be contacted on the Web at http://www.zonaresearch.com/.
Chart: Microsoft On The March - Explorer v Navigator
Date Explorer Market Share (%) Navigator Market Share (%)
Oct. 99 64 36
Apr. 99 59 41
Oct. 98 40 60
Jul. 98 45 54
Sep. 97 36 62
Jan. 97 28 70
Aug. 96 8 83
Apr. 96 4 87
Feb. 96 3 74
Jan. 96 2 71
Source: Zona Research Inc, Nov 1999.