RealTime IT News

Netscape Leading, But Losing Shares in U.S. Browser Market

Although still the market leader in the U.S. browser market, Netscape Communications Corp. dropped nine points in the first half of 1998, while rival Microsoft added 5 points and AOL maintained its share, according to report released today by International Data Corp. (IDC).

"The results of this third IDC survey tracking Web browser market share show a dramatic shift toward Microsoft Internet Explorer by midyear 1998," said Joan-Carol Brigham, a research manager in IDC's Internet and eCommerce Strategies research program. "It appears that Microsofts current battle with the U.S. government and Netscape's software giveaway have had little effect in keeping Netscapes market share from eroding."

According to the study, "U.S. WWW Browser Market Share and Forecast Tracking, Midyear 1998," Microsoft continued its upswing in each user segment, but still faces its biggest hurdle in the medium-sized and large business segments. AOL also reported steady progress in the small business arena, picking up where Netscape is behind. The study found that six months ago Netscape led and continually increased among small business users.

However, as of June 1998, Netscape began a downward spiral, losing close to a 10 percent share with small businesses. The study further noted that medium-sized and large business segment usage of Navigator has nose dived almost 9 percent over the past six months.

"Microsoft's weakness remains in the medium-sized and large business segments where it has made minimal gains," said Brigham. "This is clearly a Netscape opportunity."

In third place, IDC found that AOL held steady its share in the home user segment, while gaining with small business users. The launch of its 4.0 product, which integrates Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, could spell a number of new users. IDC said at the time of the research, quite a few AOL users had already upgraded to the beta 4.0 version.