internet explorer sad.pngLast week we took a look at where the various browsers stood up against each other in terms of market share. I was shocked (to say the least) when Internet Explorer triumphantly came out on top with a 1.22% market share increase. That really hit hard for Firefox who’s market share was sent spiraling down to 16.96%, which was nearly a percent lower than the previous month. It’s not too often that you see a single browser gain or drop an entire percent from one month to the next.

When the stats rolled out there were a number of red flags thrown up questioning the integrity of the data. Mozilla, confident that their internal numbers did not show such a significant drop, started to investigate the findings. Net Applications gave them a hand, and here are some of the things they found:

1. Usage of Firefox did not appear to decline in April.

2. Usage of IE saw an ultra unusual spike over the period of a few days in April. While there was steady traffic from IE users – as measured by page views – for a short period surrounding April 18th, there was a huge spike in traffic from IE users – as measure by unique visitors – during the same time period. When I say “huge spike”, I mean something on order of 25% to 50% greater than what could have been expected.

3. Most of IE’s spike was attributable to IE6 users on XP (with some assistance from IE7 users on Vista), and nearly the entire spike came from users outside North America.

Net Applications receives traffic data from nearly 40,000 different business websites, and as it turns out there was an online marketing campaign aimed only at Internet Explorer users. There was no details released as to what sites were running it, but Net Applications said that it was “totally unrelated to anything with Vista, Microsoft or Windows.”

They have now put additional filters in place to watch for abnormal behavior like this. According to them they were already watching for stuff like this to happen on any one particular site, but they weren’t expecting such a widespread campaign to occur.

The stats have been updated, and it looks like things have returned to normal. Firefox and Safari both dropped slightly in market share, but only by miniscule amounts this time. Internet Explorer only saw a 0.03% increase instead of the 1.22% that is was at with the incorrect data. Here are the revised stats:

March 2008 April 2008 Change
Internet Explorer 74.80% 74.83% +0.03%
Firefox 17.83% 17.76% -0.07%
Safari 5.82% 5.81% -0.01%
Opera 0.69% 0.69% 0.00%
Netscape 0.55% 0.56% +0.01%
Mozilla 0.09% 0.16% +0.07%
Opera Mini 0.04% 0.05% +0.01%
Playstation 0.04% 0.04% 0.00%
Pocket IE 0.03% 0.03% 0.00%
Konqueror 0.03% 0.03% 0.00%

Much better! If you’re curious about what the stats looked like before hop on over to our previous post.

[via ComputerWorld]