Study: IE6 is stealing market share from Netscape

With just seven months on the market, Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) has already gained significant market share, stealing the fire from rival browser Netscape, which recently suffered a marked drop in users, according to a report released Wednesday by Internet researcher WebSideStory Inc.

IE6's global market share has ballooned from just 2.4 percent shortly after its launch to 30.5 percent as of Monday, the researcher said. Meanwhile, Netscape, which had been holding steady with 12 percent of the worldwide market for more than a year, dropped to slightly over 7 percent after the release of IE6.

While IE6 stands strong at number-two in terms of global market share, trailing only IE5, Netscape isn't dead in the water yet, according to WebSideStory.

AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOLTW), which owns the Netscape browser, recently revealed that it is considering dropping Internet Explorer from its America Online Inc. Internet service in favor of a browser powered by the "Gecko" engine, which is software used by Netscape to display Web pages in a browser. With AOL's powerful presence in the market, and its already 34 million registered users, the researcher predicted that Netscape could launch a comeback if AOL decides to give IE the boot.

Additionally, the newly released Netscape 6.2 appears to be a stronger product than some earlier versions, which might bolster the browser's popularity, Geoff Johnston, vice president of product marketing for WebSideStory's StatMarket service said in a statement.

WebSideStory said that it rates global browser usage share as the percent of daily Internet users that access the Net using a particular browser. The user statistics were gathered by the company's StatMarket Web site design and Web software developer service, which publishes information gathered from more than 50 million daily Internet users visiting 125,000 sites worldwide, the company said.

The San Diego, California-based researcher did not disclose whether the study was conducted independently or paid for by a company.

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