Tech mistake|The internet is more deeply integrated into the everyday lives of most people than it was during the 1990s and early 2000s. That means that high quality web browsers are an important tool. As internet use became a mainstream activity, a lot of different web browsers appeared for people to choose between, and indeed there are still plenty of browser options available. However, it is Google Chrome that has become the market leader.
It was not always this way though, as the early years of the internet saw several web browsers compete for dominance: including NCSA Mosaic, OS/2 Warp and UdiWWW. It is unlikely that many modern internet users will remember these because they were quickly supplanted by Netscape and Internet Explorer. Netscape had an extraordinary 86 percent of the market at one point, but the decision by Microsoft to integrate Explorer with its Windows OS – as well the deals it struck with original equipment manufacturers – ensured that Explorer was the browser of choice for 99 percent of users by 1999.
The arrival of Chrome
This looked like an unassailable position, but it was precisely that dominance that led Microsoft to ignore web standards with browsers like Internet Explorer 6 and 7 and open the door for rivals. After the ground had been prepared by Mozilla, it was the launch of the Chrome browser by Google in 2008 that really changed things. Google made a point of meeting web standards and its browser sailed through the Acid1 and 2 tests, both of which Internet Explorer 6 and 7 had failed. This meant that web developers started using Chrome en masse, as it enabled them to create better websites. Chrome became popular with casual internet users as well, because it had a simple, minimalist look and delivered greater speed and security than any of its competitors.
Control of the market
Having gained market dominance, Chrome has held onto it, as figures for December 2018 showed that it was the browser of choice for over 62 percent of internet users around the world. As of March of this year, the closest rival to Chrome is Safari, which is the chosen browser of just 13.2 percent of net users. This does not seem likely to change any time soon, because the attempt by Microsoft to relaunch its Internet Explorer browser as Edge has failed to revive its fortunes, while the most recent updates to the Firefox browser have been heavily criticised by users. However, although Chrome controls the PC and mobile browser market, it does not dominate the tablet one. Figures released last summer indicate that it controls 25 percent of this market, while the Safari browser from Apple has 59 percent of it.
Google Chrome became the most popular web browser because it offers the best user experience and until any of its rivals can best it, it will stay on top. Perhaps the dominance of Safari among tablet users offers rivals some hope.