Web Browser WarsThe Internet browser wars have been raging on for a while now, with Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Google Chrome (though Safari is in the fold) essentially jockeying back and forth to become the most popular/safest/fastest etc. options out there.

As these browser giants compete, users win. Significant updates are rolled out on a regular basis as each one tries to separate itself from the competition.

But who is really winning? Which is truly the best internet browser? As we turn the page to 2013 and look back on a frenzied 2012, we have learned that the major browsers continue to fight for the top position, while a major focus has turned to the mobile world.

Here are a few of the browser war’s 2012 highlights:

Chrome Takes the Lead (Depending on Who You Ask)

One of the biggest stories of the year in the browser war was that Chrome overtook Internet Explorer to become the most popular browser. Depending on which statistics you look at, you’ll either see that Chrome gained the advantage (through raw pageviews) or that Internet Explorer held its ground all year (through total unique users).

stat counter browser share
StatCounter shows Chrome as top web browser

Internet Explorer Makes Improvements

The unreliability and performance of Internet Explorer has always been somewhat of a running joke, which resulted in a huge number of users seeking out other browser options, such as Firefox and Chrome.

But now that Microsoft is in on the joke (even producing an ad that mocks its own problems), a number of improvements have been made to the famous – maybe infamous – browser.

Desktop-wise, Internet Explorer is still a very healthy competitor in the browser war and, depending on who you ask, still has a pretty commanding lead over everybody else.

net market share browsers
Net market share shows IE as the leader

The Mobile Browser War Heats Up

mobile browser warThanks to the meteoric rise of mobile options – including smartphones and tablets – browsers now have to consider their capabilities beyond the desktop space.

Safari has already been given a substantial lead in this category (reaching over 66% market share in July and August of last year), thanks to being pre-loaded onto every Apple device.

Of course, there are discrepancies here, just as there are when it comes to the battle for desktop supremacy. In one case (looking at unique visitors to tracked websites and then weighing that against the number of Internet users in a country), Safari has a commanding lead on the competition, with Google Android pulling into second place (by a mile) as 2012 wore on.

On the other hand, another metric (using raw pageviews on tracked sites to determine market share percentages) has Google Android in the lead, with Safari in second.

So what does all of this mean for the browser wars in 2013? It would appear that, for the most part, these browsers are standing their ground. Internet Explorer is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to unique visitors, but Firefox and Chrome advocates know how to rack up the pageviews.

In the end, it all comes down to preference, at least for the non-mobile realm. The browser wars of 2013 will likely be won in the mobile world, where everyone is still developing a sound strategy for success.

Whoever does that – Safari and Android already have significant head starts, while Internet Explorer, Opera, Chrome, Firefox and more lag behind – might just be able to call itself the true victor of the everlasting mobile browser war.

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