IE's European share falls under 60%, Firefox's growth stalls

Traditionally, Europeans are much more likely than Americans to ditch IE and turn to an alternative.

Fewer than 60% of European Web users run Microsoft's Internet Explorer, a French-based metrics company reported yesterday, while more than 31% have switched to Mozilla's Firefox.

Microsoft's browser dipped under 60% for the first time in August, rallied slightly in September, but then dipped below that bar again during October and November, said XiTi Monitor, a Web measurement site operated by Applied Technologies Internet of Merignac, France.

For November, IE's share of Europe's browser market was 59.5%, down a percentage point since June and off five points since April.

Firefox's share, meanwhile, has slipped nearly two percentage points since August, when it accounted for 33% of the European market. After falling to 31.2% the following month, Firefox ended November with a 31.1% share, the lowest number since May 2008.

Another Internet metrics firm, US-based Net Applications, had also noted a drop in Firefox's share during September, and attributed the decline to desertions to Chrome, the browser that Google Inc. introduced that month. Net Applications' numbers for Firefox, however, decreased much less dramatically, down just 0.2% from the month before.

But while Net Applications' data showed that Firefox quickly regained losses it had suffered to Chrome, and then added more users, XiTi's measurements indicate that Firefox's growth has essentially stalled.

Net Applications has also tracked the slow, steady decline of IE. Last month, said Net Applications, which monitors visitors to more than 40,000 sites, the majority of them US URLs, Microsoft's browser fell under a 70% share for the first time since the California company began monitoring browser market share.

According to XiTi, both Chrome and Opera Software's flagship Opera browser control larger shares in Europe than they do in the U.S. Chrome, for instance, ended November with a 1.1% share -- Net Applications pegged it at 0.8% -- while Opera owned a 5.1% share, more than seven times higher than the 0.7% measured by Net Applications.

Opera, which is headquartered in Norway, is Europe's only native browser maker. Since August, said XiTi, Opera has boosted its market share by 0.6 percentage point, all at the apparent expense of Firefox.

Traditionally, Europeans are much more likely than Americans to ditch IE and turn to an alternative. Earlier in the year, for example, XiTi said Firefox's market share in some countries, including Finland, Poland and Slovenia, was approaching 50%.

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