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IE 6 garners one-third of browser market

The latest version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer now holds 30.4 percent of the worldwide browser market, according to a new study.

The latest version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer has grabbed nearly one-third of the worldwide browser market, according to a study released Wednesday.

IE 6 was unveiled last August, and in its first week on the market grabbed a 2.4 percent share, according to StatMarket, a division of audience measurement service WebSideStory. StatMarket said Wednesday that that figure has risen to 30.4 percent, making it the second most popular browser behind its predecessor, Microsoft's IE 5.

AOL Time Warner's Netscape browser has fallen to third place, with only about 7 percent of the market. The Netscape software had been able to hold onto 12 percent of the market until IE 6 was released, "at which point it began dropping precipitously," the research firm said.

A reversal of fortune could be on the horizon, however. America Online is considering replacing the browser bundled in its "free AOL" CDs from IE to a product from its Netscape division, the company disclosed this month.

That move could cut into IE's dominance, as AOL is the largest Internet service provider in the country.

"Netscape 6 seems to be a stronger product than some of the company's earlier release versions, according to its users," said Geoff Johnston, vice president of product marketing for StatMarket. "If AOL takes this step and Netscape continues to strengthen its browser, we could see another battle in the browser war."