Google Chrome is about to surpass Internet Explorer as the most popular browser in the UK, according to updated statistics from Internet analytics firm StatCounter.

As you can see in the first graph below, IE has been in a veritable free fall since July 2008 (blue line), dropping from a nearly 75 percent browser market share in the United Kingdom to a mere 31.5 percent in a little over 4 years.

The steep decline contrasts the rise of Chrome during the same period blatantly – Google’s browser has gone from 0 percent to 31.28 percent since July 2008 (green line), and is clearly poised to overtake IE by next month if the trend continues (and there’s absolutely nothing that suggests it won’t).

Top 5 Browsers in United Kingdom from Jul 2008 to Sep 2012 StatCounter Global Stats 123220 Chrome poised to overtake IE as most popular browser in the UK; Safari rising worldwide

As we reported recently, StatCounter data shows Google Chrome now has more than one third of the global browser market. The updated stats show Chrome currently boasts a worldwide market share of 35.4 percent, even.

Globally, you can see how Chrome’s rise is at the expense of Microsoft’s IE, but also clearly due to the accelerating decrease of Mozilla’s Firefox browser. Opera, meanwhile, hasn’t been showing any signs of growth for a while now.

For your background: Google Chrome was launched almost exactly 4 years ago.

Top 5 Browsers from Jul 2008 to Sep 2012 StatCounter Global Stats 123450 Chrome poised to overtake IE as most popular browser in the UK; Safari rising worldwide

Now look at the above graph again and focus on the grey line, depicting the global market share of Apple’s Safari browser.

Contrary to Chrome, IE and Firefox, Safari still boasts only a single-digit percentage in terms of global market share, but you can spot a noticeable bump in recent times.

According to StatCounter, Safari ended last year with a roughly 6 percent worldwide market share, but has since risen to almost 8.2 percent. IE and Firefox declined by 8 and 3 percent during the same period, respectively.

The rise of Safari is even more noticeable when you zoom in on North America stats: StatCounter data shows Safari has climbed from a 10.9 percent market share in December 2011 to 14.8 percent today.

Top 5 Browsers in North America from Jul 2008 to Sep 2012 StatCounter Global Stats 125611 Chrome poised to overtake IE as most popular browser in the UK; Safari rising worldwide

In the UK, Safari has a 16 percent market share (see the graph at the top of this post to see the remarkable increase the browser has seen in recent months).

StatCounter’s data has been openly questioned before, but its service is widely used as a standard for measuring browser usage. As long as you realize that these type of stats are simply never 100 percent accurate, StatCounter’s findings are usually indicative of clear trends.

FWIW: StatCounter’s figures are based on data from over 15 billion page views (and notably, not unique visitors which is what rivals like Net Applications measure) from over 3 million sites that run the company’s stats package.