Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox continue to decline. Apple's Safari rose slightly.
Google's Chrome Web browser continues to steadily gain usage momentum, rising to 7.05 percent of share in May, up from 6.73 percent in April, according to Net Applications, which monitors browser usage.
The numbers are based on page views coming from each browser, as opposed to the number of people using the browser. The gain for Google means a drop for other browsers. Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser continued to decline, falling to 59.69 percent last month, compared with 59.95 percent in April. Mozilla's Firefox decreased 0.2 percent to 24.35 percent in May, down from 24.59 percent in April, while Apple's Safari rose slightly, from 4.72 percentage points in April to 4.77 percent last month.
Meanwhile, StatCounter, another Web analytics firm, reported that IE6 use had dropped below 5 percent for the first time in May in the United States and Europe, and to 9.8 percent worldwide. Even though IE lost overall market share, Microsoft's latest version, IE 8 grew and accounted for 30.5 percent in the U.S., StatCounter reported, while Net Applications has it at 28.9 percent of usage.
The battle of the browsers has grown more competitive as new features are continuously being added to support changing Web standards. Firefox enjoyed the limelight for a while as the alternative to IE, but its growth has been halted by the growing popularity of Chrome, which launched to generally favorable reviews in September 2008, but didn't see much momentum until mid 2009.
Last December, Google launched beta versions of Chrome for the Mac and Linux, which pushed up usage of the browser to 5.2 percent through January and 5.6 percent in February before hitting 6.1 percent in May.
Google moved Chrome 5 for Windows out of beta and took the Mac and Linux versions of Chrome out of beta in May. is much faster than previous versions of the browser and features HTML5-based geolocation APIs. If Chrome grows a full percentage point every two months, it will hit double digits with a 10 percent market share by Dec. 1.
As the defacto browser for Macs, Safari's growth is expected to continue rising due to sales of the iPad, which are at more than 2 million units since its release two months ago.