Safari and Firefox are continuing to take browser marker share away from Internet Explorer, according to NetApplications.

Explorer remains by far and away the most dominant browser with 85.05 percent, but it lost significant ground in 2005 - down from 90.31 percent in 2004.

Firefox end the year up nearly 10 percent for the year with 4.64 percent of total market share. The open-source browser had "started 2005 on fire", according to NetApplications but cooled off during the summer months. A stronger year-end was thanks to the release of Firefox 1.5.

Safari was the only browser to gain market share every month, and has jumped past Netscape to grab the third spot at 3.07 percent market share. It ended 2004 with 1.56 percent.

Netscape shrank to fourth place with 1.24 percent share, and Opera ended the year with 0.55 percent - the same as where it was in 2004. NetApplications expects to see Opera usage rise as Web usage on handheld devices - a market where Opera has already distinguished itself - continues to grow.

NetApplications’ data is collected from small to medium enterprise websites that use its statistics software. The sample size is 40,000 and growing, according to the company.