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Internet Browser Market Share (1996–2019)

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Internet Browser Market Share (1996–2019)

Web browsers are a ubiquitous part of the internet experience and one of the most commonly used digital tools of the modern era.

Since the first rudimentary interfaces were created in the 1990s, a number of browsers have entered the market, with a select few achieving market dominance over our access to web content.

Today’s bar chart race video, by the YouTube channel Data is Beautiful, is a nostalgic look back at how people used to access the internet, from Mosaic to Chrome.

The First Wave of Browsers

Simply put, web browsers are the software applications that act as our portal to the internet. Today, aside from the occasional pop-up box, we barely notice them. In the early ’90s though, when the web was in its infancy, the crude, boxy interfaces were a revolutionary step in making the internet usable to people with access to a computer.

The first step in this journey came in 1990, when the legendary Tim Berners-Lee developed the first-ever web browser called “WorldWideWeb” – later renamed Nexus. Nexus was a graphical user interface (GUI) that allowed users to view text on web pages. Images were still beyond reach, but since most connections were dial-up, that wasn’t much of a limitation at the time.

Nexus browser example

The precurser to the modern browser was Mosaic, originally developed as a temporary project by the the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

After his graduation from UIUC in 1993, Marc Andreessen teamed up with Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics, to produce a commercial version of the browser. The resulting software, Netscape Navigator, became the first widely used browser, moving the internet from an abstract concept to a network that was accessible to everyday people. The company soon staged a wildly popular IPO, which saw the 16-month-old startup reach a valuation of nearly $3 billion.

Naturally, the fanfare surrounding Netscape had captured Microsoft’s attention. Immediately after Netscape’s IPO, the first version of Internet Explorer (building off a licensed version of Mozilla) was released. The browser wars had begun.

The Internet Explorer Era

In 1995, Bill Gates was looking to capitalize on the “Internet Tidal Wave”, and was up to the challenge of eating into Netscape’s market share, which stood at about 90%.

A new competitor “born” on the Internet is Netscape. We have to match and beat their offerings…

– Bill Gates

Ultimately, Netscape was no match for Internet Explorer (IE) once it was bundled with the Windows operating system. By the dawn of the new millennium (beware Y2K!) the situation had reversed, with IE capturing over 75% of the browser market share.

With Netscape mostly out of the picture, IE had a stranglehold on the market. In fact, Microsoft’s position was so comfortable that after IE6 was released 2001, the next full version wouldn’t ship until 2006.

It was during this time that a new player came onto the scene. Mozilla Firefox was officially launched in 2004, seeing over 60 million downloads within its first nine months. For the first time in years, Microsoft began to feel the heat of competition.

Goliath and Goliath

Despite the growing popularity for Mozilla Firefox, it was a browser backed by another tech giant that would eventually lead to IE’s downfall – Google Chrome.

Chrome was pitched to the public in 2008 as “a fresh take on the browser”. While Microsoft struggled with open web standards, Chrome’s source code was openly available through Google’s Chromium project.

By 2011, Firefox and Chrome had eroded IE’s market share to below 50%, and a year later, Chrome would end Internet Explorer’s 14-year reign as the world’s top internet browser.

Today, the browser market has come full circle. Chrome has now become the dominant browser on the market, while competitors fight to increase their single-digit market shares. IE has dropped to fourth place.

Looking Back at the Peaks

In the 25 years since Netscape gave people access to the internet, a few browsers have had their moment in the sun. Here are the years of peak market share for all the major browsers:

BrowserPeak Market SharePeak Year
Netscape Navigator90%1995
Internet Explorer95%2004
Opera3%2009
Mozilla Firefox32%2010
Safari7%2012

Once a browser becomes popular, it can be incredibly difficult to carve into its market share. Even during the height of the iPhone era, Apple’s browser, Safari, was only able to manage a 7% market share.

For now, it looks like Chrome will continue to be the world’s preferred method of experiencing the internet. If Chrome’s current trajectory continues, it could become the third major browser to surpass a 90% market share.

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Ranked: Largest Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue

Most of the 10 largest semiconductor foundries in the world, are headquartered in just three Asian countries, accounting for 90% of the entire industry’s revenue.

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A cropped chart showing the largest semiconductor foundry companies by their percentage of global revenues in Q1 2023.

Ranked: Largest Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue

They’re in our phones, cars, planes, and even fridges.

Semiconductor chips have become critical for the modern way of life, and the biggest semiconductor foundry companies rake in billions of dollars from widespread demand.

This chart shows the largest semiconductor foundry companies by their percentage of global revenues in Q1 2023, using data sourced from Trendforce.

ℹ️ We highlight data for companies that only operate foundries (fabrication plants) that manufacture chips for clients, also known as a “pure-play” foundries, as well as companies that design and manufacture their own chips, known as integrated device manufacturers. “Fabless” manufacturers that only design and don’t manufacture their own chips are not included.

Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue

At the top of the list and dwarfing every other company by revenue share is TSMC which earned 60% (or nearly $17 billion) of the entire industry’s revenue in Q1 2023.

Founded in 1987, TSMC is a pure-play foundry that has become Taiwan’s largest company and manufactures products for a host of clients including Apple, NVIDIA, and AMD.

RankCompanyCountryRevenue
(Q1 2023, USD)
1TSMC🇹🇼 Taiwan$16,735M
2Samsung🇰🇷 South Korea$3,446M
3GlobalFoundries🇺🇸 US$1,841M
4UMC🇹🇼 Taiwan$1,784M
5SMIC🇨🇳 China$1,462M
6HuaHong Group🇨🇳 China$845M
7Tower Semiconductor🇮🇱 Israel$356M
8PSMC🇹🇼 Taiwan$332M
9VIS🇹🇼 Taiwan$269M
10DB Hitek🇰🇷 South Korea$234M
Other$556M
Global Total$27,860M

Note: Revenue based on the following conversion rates: USD 1 = WON 1,276; USD 1 = NTD 30.4.

Well behind TSMC in foundry revenues is integrated device manufacturer Samsung, the biggest company in South Korea, which made $3.4 billion (12.4% of the industry’s revenue) from its semiconductor manufacturing business.

GlobalFoundries from the U.S., UMC from Taiwan and SMIC from China round out the top five, with each taking home around 6% of industry’s revenue share in Q1 2023. The former spun out from AMD’s manufacturing arm when the company went fabless in 2009.

Industry concentration is apparent in semiconductors. For example, the top 10 semiconductor foundry companies account for 98% of the entire industry’s revenue. Furthermore, 90% of the market is dominated by companies in just three Asian countries: Taiwan, South Korea, and China.

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