POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:14pm
CNN — This might be the start of a new chapter in the browser wars.
Over the weekend, Google Chrome routed more Internet traffic than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which long has held its spot as the most-used Web browser in the world, according to data from StatCounter, an Internet monitor.
Don't rush to over-interpret this bit of news, though.
Other Internet trackers still show Internet Explorer -- which comes pre-installed on many Windows computers and has long been a default -- in the lead.
And some groups have criticized StatCounter's data collection methods, saying the group does not account for the different ways countries collect Internet traffic data.
Still, the numbers are a sign of the times.
Google Chrome, which is regarded as the hipper, faster and more developer-friendly browser, is gaining ground on the competition.
"Whether Chrome can take the lead in the browser wars in the long term remains to be seen, however the trend towards Chrome usage at weekends is undeniable," StatCounter's CEO Aodhan Cullen said in a written news release in March, when Chrome bested Explorer for a day. "At weekends, when people are free to choose what browser to use, many of them are selecting Chrome in preference to Internet Explorer."
According to StatCounter's latest report, which was spotted by the blog Global Nerdy, Google Chrome fielded 32.8% of Web page requests on Sunday.
That compares to 31.9% for Internet Explorer and 25.5% for Mozilla Firefox, which once was seen as the most viable alternative to the long-dominant IE.
Tech blog TheNextWeb says the numbers aren't exact but they are significant.
"Measuring the Web is an imprecise science, very often based on scaling up small scale measurement surveys," the blog writes, "but the gist of StatCounter's data over the last year indicates that Chrome use is rising ... at the expense of IE and Firefox, regardless of the exact precision of the data."
ComScore, another company that tracks Internet traffic, does not release comparable numbers. But spokesman Andrew Lipsman said in an e-mail that StatCounter's numbers are "consistent with what I've seen."
"Chrome has definitely been increasing its share over the past couple years," he wrote.
Several factors appear to contribute to Chrome's rise.
One is frustration with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which, fairly or not, is seen by some Web users as not very innovative.
Another is the increasing role Chrome plays in all aspects of computing, especially for people who use Google's other online services, like Gmail and Google Translate.
Some of the browser's features enhance other Google products, and the Chrome Web store is home to an increasingly robust catalog of add-ons that improve the browser's functionality. CNN's partner site Mashable has published a list of some of the best.
Google also has tried to position the browser as the basis for the operating system of the future.
And then there's the ad campaign.
Google has been running TV spots showing people using Chrome to communicate with each other. The tagline: "The web is what you make of it."
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