Safari has become the world's third most-used Web browser while Internet Explorer continues to lose its grip on the worldwide information superhighway.

New research from Web analysis firm Market Share shows Safari with 2.78 per cent of the market, up from 1.56 per cent in December 2004.

The research also confirms the continued rise in popularity of the Firefox browser, now the world's second-ranking Web surfing tool with 8.84 per cent (from 4.64 per cent in December 2004).

Internet Explorer continues to hold the lion's share of the market, with 86.08 per cent share - but that's down significantly from the 90.31 per cent it held in December 2004.

Netscape sits in fourth place with 1.25 per cent. Opera in fifth with 0.53 per cent and Mozilla takes sixth place with 0.43 per cent

Market Share collects data from the browsers of site visitors to its 40,000-strong network of live statistics customers from small-to-medium enterprises.