Chrome breaks 10 percent browser market share for the first time

Safari also hits a record high as Internet Explorer continues to lose ground

January was a record-setting month for Google Chrome and Apple Safari, as both set new highs for market share. January was also a landmark month for Internet Explorer, albeit in a negative fashion, as the browser hit a new low of 56 percent of the browser market.

Net Applications' market share numbers show Internet Explorer has been in steady decline, losing 4 percent over the last 10 months. The drop has helped second-place Firefox close the gap despite its own slight downward trend, which Firefox maker Mozilla hopes to reverse with the upcoming release of Firefox 4.

Firefox's inability to capitalize on IE's lost market share has been a boon for Chrome and Safari. "We're seeing the trend [of IE's decline] continue, but where once the growth went to Firefox, now it goes to Chrome and Safari," said Vince Vizzaccaro, vice president of marketing at Net Applications.

In cracking the 10 percent barrier, Chrome appears to be winning converts directly from Internet Explorer. Market share lost by Microsoft's browser must be picked up by other browsers, and Chrome is gaining the most momentum while Internet Explorer sputters.

Meanwhile, Safari's gains -- the largest one-month jump that Net Applications has ever recorded -- can be attributed in part to the growth in Mac usage: Mac OS X market share jumped 0.23 percent in January, its largest pickup since September 2009.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.