Will Google Chrome Overtake Internet Explorer in 2012?

It was always assumed that Mozilla's Firefox browser would one day overtake Microsoft's Internet Explorer in the global browser market, ending IE's reign that began when the Redmond software giant buried Netscape Navigator years ago. But as it turns out, Google Chrome might have a better shot of overtaking IE, and at the rate things are going, it could happen this year.

According to data from StatCounter, Google Chrome increased its global browser market share from 15.68 percent in January 2011 to 27.27 percent by the end of the year. Microsoft's Internet Explorer, meanwhile, dropped from 46 percent to begin 2011 to 38.65 percent by the time 2011 came to a close. Barely more than 11 percentage points now separate these two as IE continues to trend downwards and Chrome upwards. For what it's worth, Firefox dropped from 30.68 percent of the global browser market in January 2010 to 25.27 percent in December 2010.

Source: StatCounter

The market share numbers over at NetMarketShare are a little less dramatic, though trending similarly. According to NetMarketShare, IE's share of the global browser market dropped from 56 percent to begin 2011 to 47.76 percent by the end of the year. Firefox also slid, going from 22.75 percent to 20.09 percent, while Chrome increased its share from 10.7 percent to 17.58 percent, putting it in third place, not second.

Whichever numbers are correct, it's clear that Chrome is the real threat to IE based on market share trends, a fact Microsoft may not want to admit. In a Windows blog post on Sunday, Microsoft's Roger Capriotti tried to spin the situation by pointing out how IE is doing well in Windows 7, especially in the U.S. And while it's true, it can't hide the fact that IE won't be the world's most user browser forever, and maybe not for all of 2012.