While Microsoft made gains in every segment of the US Web browser market in 1997, Netscape's Navigator browser remained the market leader, according to a new study by International Data (IDC).
Netscape's share of the browser market in 1997 was 50.5%, while Microsoft's Internet Explorer was used by 22.8% of Web surfers, IDC said. America Online's browser came in third, with 16.1%.
Netscape saw its market share increase only among small business users, IDC says. But with more than 50% of the market, Netscape is unlikely to be toppled from its overall leadership position in 1998, predicts Joan-Carol Brigham, a research manager in IDC's Internet continuous information research service and one of the report's authors.
Neither Microsoft nor Netscape derives revenues from their browsers any more, but having a larger share of the market is viewed as being of strategic importance to the companies.
In 1996 Microsoft held 18.5%of the small business market relative to Netscape's 44.4%. In 1997, Microsoft gained 8.2% in small business, for 26.7% of the U.S. share, whereas Netscape gained 2.3% for a 46.7% share.
Shipments of Web browsers within the U.S. are expected to grow from 10.1 million units in 1997 to 124.3 million units in 2002, a compound annual growth rate of 52%, IDC said in the report.
Other findings in the report, titled "U.S. World Wide Web Browser Market Review And Forecast, 1997-2002," include the following:
-- From 1996 to 1997, a shift occurred in applications used with the browser. E-mail, calendaring and scheduling, and document management made significant gains.
-- An examination of the five user segments (home, small business, medium-sized and large businesses, government, and education) shows most of the growth in the browser market occurred in small businesses.
IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts, on the Web at http://www.idc.com/.
NOTE: Figures provided in an earlier version of this story, which put Microsoft's share at 42.8% and AOL's at 3% were incorrect.