Only seven months after its release, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 has captured 30 percent of the Web browser market. And while IE's gains are impressive, they're coming largely at the expense of one-time rival Netscape, which saw its share drop to under 7 percent, down from 12 percent the year before. IE 6 is currently the second most-often used Web browser on the Internet, while IE 5 is number one.
"The fast adoption rate for IE 6 has been a definite threat to Netscape's usage share," says Geoff Johnston, the vice president of product marketing for market researcher StatMarket. "Although it looked originally as though Netscape had an entrenched core user base, IE6 has managed to take significant market share. It's do or die time now for Netscape."
Netscape's fortunes lie with the open source Mozilla project, which is set to finally ship the 1.0 version of its browser technology within the next 30 days. However, Mozilla is at least two years behind schedule, and that delay has led to a series of lackluster Netscape upgrades that have been widely panned and ignored by users. Netscape parent company AOL Time Warner recently revealed that it might switch its online service from IE to Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine, however, and that could significantly boost the ranks of people using this technology. AOL claims to have over 30 million users, which represents about 13 percent of the overall browser market.