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Netscape Loses Ground to Microsoft Browser

Internet: Market share drops below 50% for the first time, to 41.5%, according to a new study.

September 29, 1998|From Bloomberg News

Netscape Communications Corp.'s share of the market for Internet browsers fell to less than 50% for the first time, a study said Monday, as the company lost ground to Microsoft Corp.'s rival browser.

International Data Corp. of San Jose found that for the first six months of the year, Netscape had 41.5% of the market for software that lets users view pages on the World Wide Web. That's down from 50.5% for all of 1997. Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker, had 27.5% for the first half of 1998, up from 22.8% for 1997.

Microsoft has been accused by the Justice Department and 20 states of using predatory business practices to extend its dominance in computer operating systems to the market for Internet software, quashing rivals such as Netscape.

Earlier this year, Mountain View-based Netscape began giving away its browser, as Microsoft does, to help stem the loss of market share to Microsoft.

The results show a "dramatic shift toward Microsoft," said Joan-Carol Brigham, a research manager at IDC. "Microsoft's current battle with the U.S. government and Netscape's software giveaway have had little effect in keeping Netscape's market share from eroding."

In the trial scheduled for Oct. 15, the government will argue that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft muscled its way into the browser market by bullying Internet companies and personal-computer makers.

Officials at Netscape weren't immediately available to comment on the study.

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