02:09 PM

Conflicting Numbers: Did Firefox Meet '05 Goal?

A Web measurement company refutes a rival's recent take on Firefox's market share.

Wait just one goll-darned minute, a Web measurement company said Thursday as it refuted a rival's recent take on Firefox's market share.

According to WebSideStory, a San Diego-based Web analytics provider, Mozilla's Firefox closed 2005 with 8.9 percent of the browser market, while Microsoft's Internet Explorer wrapped up the year with 87.6 percent.

Last week, NetApplications said that Firefox owned 9.6 percent of the market, and IE accounted for 85 percent.

"Despite making strong gains in 2005, Firefox did not meet its reported goal of 10 percent market share by year's end," said WebSideStory in a statement. "[But] although Mozilla didn't reach its intended goal, the browser still made significant strides over the last year."

The last time a non-Microsoft browser had close to a 9 percent market share was Netscape in April 2002.

Firefox began 2005 with just 4.7 percent of the browser business, said WebSideStory, and had climbed to 7.4 percent by early July.

In other Web metrics news, WebSideStory also said that in-site search gave some e-tailers a big boost during the holiday shopping season. Sites that provided search tools concerted visitors into shoppers at nearly three times the rate of average site users.

During the last quarter of 2005, the conversion rate for visitors using a site's search box was 7.54 percent, 2.7 times higher than the conversion rate for average site users (2.79 percent). Conversion rates soared as the holiday shopping season progressed, jumping from just under 6 percent for search users in October to more than 8 percent in December.

"Effective site search is becoming one of the most critical conversion drivers in online commerce," said Ali Behnam, senior digital marketing consultant for WebSideStory, in a statement.

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