Zona Reports on Browser War Wasteland

In a study that bolsters District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's finding of fact that Microsoft Corp. has monopoly power that affected the Web browser market, Zona Research Inc. (www.zonaresearch.com) declared the end of an era. Zona's final browser study found that of 236 companies surveyed, 73 percent had a corporate browser policy. Of those with a policy, 69 percent mandated Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as their Web browser; only 31 percent used Netscape Navigator as their official browser. Since July 1998, no other browsers have been named as part of a corporate browser policy.

When Zona's first browser study was conducted in January 1996, there were nine players vying for a piece of the then $200 million market. Today there are two dominant players in a market with no dollar value.

"The battle for the hearts and minds of the browser market coalesced around two dominant vendors," says Clay Ryder, vice president and chief analyst at Zona Research. "In striking similarity to the cola wars of the 1980's, shelves that primarily were filled with a preponderance of competing brands have all but given way to the reality of a Coke and Pepsi dominated marketplace. Likewise, brands such as Quarterdeck Mosaic, Wollongong Emissary, and NCD Mariner have fallen by the wayside in a market controlled by Microsoft and Netscape."

In the first Zona study only 33 percent of companies had corporate browser policies. Of those, 1 percent mandated Internet Explorer and an overwhelming 91 percent called for Navigator. Since that time, the trend has been shifting in the opposite direction.

Since the release of Windows 95/NT -- and later, Windows 98 -- numerous companies have adopted Microsoft’s operating systems. With Internet Explorer bundled into the operating system software, the most convenient choice for many IT managers was to alter corporate browser policy to reflect the browser’s easy access and growing use. The result was a steady decline in Netscape's dominance.