Mobile Browser War Heating Up, Say Analysts

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Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Opera and Firefox are all at war with each other to capture market share. The aim is to not only direct the most number of users, but also to boost targeted advertising. Currently, the mobile segment is the fastest growing one and therefore all the above-mentioned companies are vying to create the most popular mobile browser.

 StatCounter, a research firm, found that internet access from tablets and cell phones has doubled to 8.5% of all internet usage. Google started off by releasing a full version of Chrome this year for mobile devices which is expected to replace Google’s unnamed browser that currently exists in Android phones. Chrome already has an established PC fan following. Chrome for Android’s release saw Google’s browser market share rise to 21.5% in April, which beat Opera’s 21.3%. The company’s move to release Chrome for Android compliments its targeted advertising business by directing users towards ads sponsored by Google.

Next in line is Apple’s Safari with 20% market share, followed by other browsers from Nokia and Blackberry with smaller shares. When it came to tablets, Apple came first with 63% market share with Android gaining ground at 19%, according to Net Applications’ NetMarketShare survey.

A new version of Chrome is set to be released for iOS and is expected to significantly reduce the amount Google currently pays Apple for traffic acquisition, according to Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Capital. To counter this, he believes that Apple could simply switch to Bing on the Safari or use its own Siri to compete with Google. Microsoft is also pushing Internet Explorer. Mozilla’s Harvey Anderson believes that Microsoft is restricting third party browsers in Windows 8 to effectively cripple browsers like Firefox.

Yahoo also recently released its Axis browser for the iPhone and iPad to replace Apple’s in-built Safari browser, Yahoo’s product management director Ethan Batraski was reported saying. Amazon already has its home-grown browser for the Kindle Fire (called Silk) and is something to watch out for, according to Al Hilwa from IDC. Such moves further buttress rumors that Facebook is looking to acquire Opera to acquire data for its own efforts at targeted advertising.

It is unsure whether such moves to block rivals will attract government attention and call for intervention like Microsoft’s move to block rival browsers in the 90’s.

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One Response

  1. Yahoo!’s new Axis browser is one of the most innovative evolutions in the browser market. It isn’t a contender for the desktop market but shines in iOS, where the Axis app is WAY faster/better than Safari for iPhones and iPads. It’s bookmarking functionality doesn’t compare to but a valiant effort!

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