Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

Factors for User Intention to Switch Browsers: A Cross-National Survey

Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

Factors for User Intention to Switch Browsers: A Cross-National Survey

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Every day, billions of people use the Internet for seeking information, uploading data or photos, sharing or sending opinions, downloading or receiving messages, watching videos or webcasting, learning, shopping, playing games, and checking social media. As of December 2016, more than 3.68 billion people (50.2% of the world population) had used the Internet.1 Web browsers are distinct from other Internet-based services, such as Internet portals, shopping websites, search engines, blogs, e-learning platforms, social networking sites (SNSs), video sharing websites, microblogging platforms, and cloud-based gaming websites. Web browsers are free services that do not require registration and login; moreover, browsing service providers do not know who uses their services. Although other Internet-based services are not essential, they have clear commercial models. In contrast, web browsers offer essential services but lack a clear profit model.

Although the Internet has provided abundant commercial opportunities to numerous Internet-based services, web browsers are a tool, a mediation platform, or a channel for delivering or accessing online services. Accordingly, academic researchers have paid considerable attention to Internet portals, shopping websites, search engines, blogs, SNSs, video sharing websites, online banking, cloud-based gaming websites, and broadcasting. Few academic researchers have studied web browsers. Most studies have examined users' switching intention and behavior related to Internet-enabled services, but only one study has investigated the factors affecting user intention to continue using or switch web browsers.2

The competition among web browsers is as intense as that for other Internet-based service markets.3 For examples, Netscape Navigator was widely popular at its peak period, but eventually shut down; Microsoft Internet Explorer dominated the market for several years, but later withdrew from the market. Despite attempting to regain lost users by introducing Microsoft Edge to replace Internet Explorer, Microsoft lost over 300 million in 2016.4 The intense competition in the global web browser market causes variations in market shares and rankings across countries and over years or even months. For example, Mozilla Firefox has been the top desk web browser in Germany for several years, Microsoft dominated the browser markets of Japan and Korea for over a decade, and Opera has dominated the markets of most African countries.5 In global market share, Google Chrome surpassed Microsoft Internet Explorer in early 2012, and Apple Safari exceeded Mozilla Firefox in mid-2014.6

Given that acquiring new customers for online service providers is expensively as well as retaining existing customers and preventing them from switching to competitive offerings is more difficult in the online environment than in the offline environment, considerable research has been conducted on commercial Internet-based services. When comparing only one study on web browsers with abundant research on Internet portals, shopping websites, search engines, blogs, e-learning platforms, SNSs, microblogging platforms and online-gaming platforms, this study advances the knowledge of the factors that affect users' continued use of a web browser or their intention to switch from one web browser to another. In this study, respondents were recruited from Turkey, Thailand, and Taiwan. The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 reviews the literature and theory; Section 3 presents the hypotheses, questionnaire and sampling; Section 4 describes data analysis and implications; Section 5 discusses the findings; and Section 6 presents the conclusion and limitations of this study.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BASIS

Keaveney7 provides the foundation for a systematic investigation of consumer switching behavior among service providers. Prior to Keaveney's study7, research on service provider switching was limited to models of satisfaction with service quality. …

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