Survey: Safari, Firefox gain ground against IE

Web analytics company NetApplications said that Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox Web browsers both gained ground against Microsoft Internet Explorer in 2005. The news comes as NetApplications published its monthly statistics for the end of 2005.

Internet Explorer (IE) was still far and away the most dominant browser on the Web, by NetApplications’ measure, with 85.05 percent usage market share, it lost significant ground in 2005 — down from 90.31 percent in 2004.

Mozilla’s Firefox browser, by comparison, ended up 9.57 percent for the year with 4.64 percent market share. NetApplications said that Firefox “started 2005 on fire” but cooled off during the summer months. The company attributes Firefox’s stronger year-end performance to the release of Firefox 1.5.

Safari was the only browser to gain market share every month, according to NetApplications — it jumped past Netscape to grab the third spot at 3.07 percent market share. It ended 2004 with 1.56 percent.

Netscape shrank to fourth place with 1.24 percent share, and Opera ended the year with 0.55 percent — the same as where it was in 2004. NetApplications expects to see Opera usage tick upwards as Web usage on handheld devices — a market where Opera has already distinguished itself — continues to grow.

NetApplications’ data is collected from small to medium enterprise Web sites that use its statistics software. The sample size for these sites in 40,000 and growing, according to the company.

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