Watching Google take over the world

For over a decade, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) absolutely dominated the market for Internet browsers with Internet Explorer, as it was bundled in with Windows. Considering how important browser choice is to the overall Web experience, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) was always destined to enter the market, which it did in September 2008 with Chrome.

Mozilla, which Google is the largest financial backer of, was seeing Firefox begin to take off at the time. Chrome overtook Firefox in December 2011, and then set its sights on toppling IE. Last year, Chrome finally beat out IE for the No. 1 title.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has never been a meaningful player with Safari. The Mac maker doesn’t have much ambition in browsers, either, as it stopped developing its browser for Windows last year with Safari 6.0. Older versions still work, but this year’s OS X 10.9 Mavericks release will include Safari 7.0, which won’t be released for Windows. By ditching Windows, Apple cements that Safari won’t make a meaningful dent in the browser market.

Seeing is believing
It took less than five years for Chrome to become the most popular browser in the world, according to StatCounter.

You can even see Chrome take over the world by country. StatCounter also provides maps that show the top browsers by geographical region. In July 2008, IE ruled the browser world with an iron fist, and Firefox was only beginning to gain traction.

Top browsers by country, July 2008. Source: StatCounter.

A year later, Opera took over Russia, but it was still very much an IE world.

Top browsers by country, July 2009. Source: StatCounter.

Fast forward to 2010, and Firefox muscled out Opera in Russia, and was halfway through its invasion of Europe. Technically speaking, Safari began to show up on the map, but not in any important countries. For instance, its highest browser market share at the time was 28% in the tiny Pacific island territory of Wallis and Futuna. Good luck finding that on the map.

Top browsers by country, July 2010. Source: StatCounter.

Thus far, Chrome hadn’t ranked as the top browser in any country. That all changed by July 2011 when Big G’s browser started to grab South American countries and make gains in the Middle East.

Top browsers by country, July 2011. Source: StatCounter.

It didn’t take long for Chrome to quickly assault the rest of the world, overtaking the rest of South America and much of Asia just a year later. Interestingly, North America was still dominated by Microsoft for the most part.

Top browsers by country, July 2012. Source: StatCounter.

Today, Chrome has largely replaced IE as the top browser throughout most parts of the globe.

Top browsers by country, July 2013. Source: StatCounter.

IE still has a stronghold in China, where Google has clashed with the government on numerous occasions over censorship issues. Pirating Microsoft software has also become a national pastime, even within the enterprise. Firefox remains dominant in Africa, and Safari is still a non-player for all intents and purposes.

Well done, Google. That didn’t take very long.

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A version of this article, written by Evan Niu, originally appeared on

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