Google Chrome lost market share for the first time in two years, dropping in market share from 19.11 percent in December 2011 to 18.94 percent in January 2012, according to data from research firm Net Applications. This drop is likely due to Google penalizing Chrome's search results after a linking scandal last month.
The scandal was the discovery that Google was essentially paying to improve Google Chrome's performance in search engine results, which is a violation of Google's terms of service. Google agreed to demote Chrome's PageRank for 60 days to make amends for the misbehavior, and almost exactly one month later, data shows that the penalty is already affecting Google's web browser.
Chrome's market share loss has resulted in a gain for Internet Explorer. According to Net Applications' data, Internet Explorer saw a significant gain from December of last year to January, going from 51.87 percent up to 52.96 percent. This gain came at the expense of Chrome and other competing web browsers, with Firefox dipping from 21.83 percent to 20.88 percent, and Safari dropping from 4.97 percent to 4.90 percent. Opera gained an inch with 1.66 percent up to 1.67 percent.
With another full month to go for Google's self-imposed penalty, it seems to be the perfect opportunity for other browsers to gain. However, at least for now, that seems to be just Internet Explorer.