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    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Reuter site - Google's browser tops 20 percent market share: report

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    Google's browser tops 20 percent market share: report

    Tue, Jul 05 15:00 PM EDT

    SEATTLE (Reuters) - Google Inc's <GOOG.O> Chrome Web browser has grabbed more than 20 percent of global market share, while Microsoft Corp's <MSFT.O> long-time leader Internet Explorer has slipped below 50 percent, according to Internet statistics firm StatCounter.

    A sevenfold increase in usage in the last two years is a boost for Google, which is trying to convert its dominance in Web search into operating systems and mobile software, bringing it into direct competition with Microsoft.

    Google's Chrome browser, launched in December 2008, took 20.7 percent of the global market in June, according to StatCounter, up from 2.8 percent in the same month in 2009.

    In the same time, it said the various versions of Internet Explorer fell to 44 percent from a 59 percent share two years ago, while Mozilla's Firefox dipped slightly to 28 percent from 30 percent.

    Google's gains come as the company makes a concerted push into browser-centric, or "cloud" computing. In May, Google launched its long-awaited Chromebook, a laptop that works almost entirely on software accessed via the Internet, rather than installed on the machine. This is a direct challenge to software leaders Microsoft and Apple.

    Microsoft, which controlled as much as 95 percent of the market in the early 2000s after crushing browser pioneer Netscape, has seen its market share ebb after disputes with antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe, which accused Microsoft of abusing its monopoly in operating systems to dominate the browser market.

    The resolutions of those disputes effectively prohibited the world's biggest software company from making Internet Explorer the default browser in its dominant Windows operating system. Microsoft, which is developing the IE10 version of its browser, settled the issue with European Union regulators in December 2009, pledging to give consumers better access to rival browsers.

    StatCounter, based in Dublin, Ireland, says its statistics are based on data collected from a sample of more than 15 billion page views per month from more than 3 million websites.

    Net Applications, a more widely used browser statistics source, estimates that Google has not increased its share quite as much.

    According to its market share data for June, Microsoft's Internet Explorer leads with 53.7 percent, Firefox has 21.7 percent and Chrome 13.1 percent. Apple Inc's Safari has 7.5 percent and Norway's Opera Software <OPERA.OL> 1.7 percent.

    (This story was corrected to show comparison period two years ago, not one)

    (Reporting by Bill Rigby. Editing by Robert MacMillan and Gerald E. McCormick)

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    Reuter site - Verizon to eliminate unlimited data plans

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    Verizon to eliminate unlimited data plans

    Tue, Jul 05 16:20 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile provider, will stop offering customers unlimited data service plans on July 7, meaning higher prices for heavy users of services such as mobile Web surfing.

    Verizon Wireless plans to charge $5 more per month than its biggest rival, AT&T Inc, which stopped offering unlimited data services last year. Unlike AT&T, Verizon is not offering any new cheaper option for low data users.

    Under its new terms, customers who limit their data use to 2 gigabytes (GB) will pay $30 a month, according to the venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, which currently charges its customers $30 per month for unlimited data use.

    To put this in perspective, 2 hours of streaming music to your cellphone every day would generate 9 GB of data downloads, according to the Verizon Wireless online data use calculator.

    In comparison, AT&T charges $25 for 2 GB of data and also offers a $15 per month plan for customers who only use 200 megabytes of data.

    AT&T has said the lower priced plan helped it add millions of new customers who might otherwise have not been willing to pay for wireless data services.

    Customers who use more than their plan allows will have to pay $10 for every extra Gigabyte of data they use, according to company spokeswoman Brenda Raney. This charge is in line with what AT&T offers today.

    Verizon's heavier data users will also be able sign up for a $50 per month plan for 5 GB or $80 a month for 10 GB, Raney said.

    Since Verizon is not cutting its lowest monthly fee for data services, Pacific Crest analyst Steve Clement said the move would be "relatively neutral for (Verizon's revenue), with the potential for upside as people take larger buckets of data or start paying the fee for going over their limit."

    Customers who view data fees as a key factor might move from Verizon to rivals such as Sprint Nextel Corp, which still offers unlimited data services. But Clement expects that might not be a huge bonus for Sprint.

    "The risk you run, I guess, is that people balk at caps and move to carriers that don't cap data," Clement said. "People make carrier decisions for lots of reasons. I don't know if the amount of data is high on your list."

    Both Verizon and AT&T sell the Apple Inc iPhone, which created an explosion in demand for services such as mobile web-surfing and downloading of mobile applications.

    Telecom shares were basically flat after the news, which was widely expected.

    Verizon shares closed up 2 cents at $37.82 on the New York Stock Exchange, where AT&T shares were down 5 cents at $31.63. Sprint shares closed down 4 cents at $5.39, also on NYSE.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Matthew Lewis and Andre Grenon)

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