We're one week away from the next installment of Net Application's monthly global browser market share report so once again I'm posting my prediction for how I think it'll turn out.
First, after an awesome November and December where Firefox picked up a total of 1.37 points to end the year with 21.34% of the global market, many predicted that it was all or mostly attributable to the holiday season which usually favors non-IE browsers and that Firefox would give up some or all of those gains in January. Not so, I'm predicting. Firefox is likely to even add a fraction to its December measure with the January number right about 21.5%.
Next, all eyes have been on Google's Chrome over the last few months so what happens (or doesn't happen) there will no doubt get lots of attention. After a pretty exciting launch that saw some initial usage numbers above 1.15%, Chrome fell back to a pretty steady level of around 0.8% for the next three months until Chrome 1.0 was released. The 1.0 release pushed Chrome up to 1.04% for the month of December. January will probably see Chrome increase to just under 1.09% for a January gain of about 1/20th of a point. Even at the end of its 5th month, though, Chrome still hasn't been able to put in a month that matches the usage of those first few days.
Safari continues to ride Mac OS X adoption to increased usage share and will likely close January with about 8.2% of the global browsing market. Nothing really unexpected there given Mac's recent strong showings.
Opera has been basically flat for as long as anyone can remember (bouncing around for the last four or five years between 1/2 and 3/4 of one percent) and the only question for Opera in January is whether it will stay flat or lose share to the other browsers. I'm predicting a loss, but small enough that it wouldn't require any real generosity to call it flat. The good news for Opera is that with the total browser market growing so quickly, even with their share remaining flat or falling slightly, their absolute number of users is still increasing.
Finally, as has been the case for several months now, I.E. is the big looser. I'm predicting that I.E. will lose about 2/3rds of a point this month and end January at a new low with a market share of 67.5%. I.E. 7 has actually made a very slight gain (0.3 points) from where it was 6 months ago, so all of the loss is coming from I.E. 6 which I think everyone can agree is a good thing, probably even Microsoft. Nevertheless, every month in recent memory has been a negative one for Internet Explorer's total share. I like that trend.
These predictions are based on the frequent updates at Net Applications and they're likely to be off a little bit but I think it's fun to try to guess. I'll post again with the final numbers and some analysis this time next week when the final numbers are out.