Apple's Safari last month posted its biggest increase ever in usage share, beating perennial champion Chrome in the gain game, Web metrics vendor Net Applications said today.
The browser bundled with Apple's revenue troika of Mac, iPhone and iPad boosted its share by six-tenths of a point, its largest one-month increase, enough to put it at 8.1 percent for July, a record.
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According to Net Applications, iOS devices like the iPhone accounted for more than a third of Safari's browser share.
But while Safari climbed -- something it's done 17 straight months -- Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) dropped by nine-tenths of a percentage point, its biggest decline since January 2011, and ended July at 52.8 percent, a new low for the browser.
If IE's decline continues at the pace of the last three months, it would fall under the important psychological line of 50 percent in November.
Google's Chrome was the only browser other than Safari to improve share in July, growing by three-tenths of a percentage point to finish the month at 13.5 percent. That keeps it on track to break the 15 percent bar by October.
Both Mozilla's Firefox and Opera Software's Opera lost ground, slipping two-tenths and one-tenth of a point, respectively, adding to those browsers' long-standing problems.
Firefox, which kicked off a rapid-release schedule in late June that will result in a new version every six weeks, now accounts for 21.5 percent of all browsers, more than three points down from its peak in November 2009.
With just 1.7 percent, Opera is in share territory it last saw in December 2007.
Net Applications attributed IE's continued tumble to desertions by users running Windows XP. But it's a different story on Windows 7, said Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Net Applications, noting that when all versions of IE are combined, Microsoft's total share of the Windows 7 market actually increased by two-tenths of a point to 54.8 percent.
"There are indications that [Microsoft's] strategy is working," said Net Applications early Monday, referring to the Redmond, Wash. developer's decision to not support IE9 on XP, and instead focus on Windows 7.
Lately, Microsoft has not been shy about disparaging Windows XP, most recently telling customers, "It's time to move on" and leave the decade-old operating system behind.
IE9 last month passed IE7 and is closing on IE6, but Safari's browser usage share still is larger than IE9's. (Data: Net Applications.)
That's not going to be easy -- Net Applications measured Windows XP usage share at 49.8 percent last month -- but it seems users have gotten the message. In the last two months, XP has dropped 3.3 percentage points; the aged OS has lost 12 points in the last year.
IE9, which Microsoft released last March, now accounts for 6.8 percent of all browsers, a 1.1-point gain during July. For the first time, IE9 global share was larger than IE7's.
July's increase was smaller than the previous two months, when IE9 added a combined 3.2 points. The fall-off may be due to Microsoft wrapping up the automatic download and installation of IE 9 on consumers' Windows 7 and Vista PCs at the end of June.
When only Windows 7 users are counted, IE9 had an 18.5 percent global share, a jump of nearly three percentage points since June.