According to a new study by Web analytics firm WebSideStory, two Web browsers by the Mozilla Foundation captured a combined 6 percent of the market from market leader Internet Explorer, which saw its share drop during the same time period. The Web usage study, which is based on an analysis of traffic to major Web sites such as Walt Disney, Best Buy, Liz Claiborne, and Sony, shows that IE has lost share for five consecutive months. Meanwhile, Mozilla's products have grown during the same period.

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The Mozilla Foundation makes two primary Web browser products, the Mozilla suite, which includes a Web browser, email client, and instant messaging (IM) solution, and the Firefox browser, a standalone Web browser that is nearing its crucial 1.0 release. According to WebSideStory, both the Mozilla suite and Firefox grabbed 3 percent market share in October, for a total of 6 percent, up from a combined 5.2 percent in September. During that same time period, IE's market share slid from 93.7 percent in September to 92.9 percent in October; in June, IE had 95.5 percent of the market.

 

Other Web browsers are also stealing market share from the stagnant IE. Opera and Apple Safari both edged above 0.5 percent of the market in October, WebSideStory says. While these numbers don't seem particularly impressive, they do come at the expense of IE, which has dominated the Web browser market since the late 1990's. However, since then, Microsoft has backed off from actively developing IE. Now, for the first time, we're seeing rivals finally starting to gain on IE.

 

The timing of this market share news couldn't be better for the Mozilla Foundation, which will launch Firefox 1.0 on November 9. The organization recently raised over $250,000 in contributions from users in just 10 days, and it will use that money to promote Firefox 1.0 in full pages ads in the New York Times. The hope is that Firefox will reach mainstream users and edge out of its niche status. They're off to a good start: Over 7 million users have downloaded preview and release candidate builds of Firefox 1.0 over the past few weeks.