Browser Trends June 2012: Chrome Takes IE’s Crown

Contributing Editor

It’s been one month since our last look at browser market activity. The worldwide StatCounter statistics for May 2012 record a historic moment in browser history…

Browser April May change relative
IE 9.0+ 15.67% 15.59% -0.08% -0.50%
IE 8.0 14.69% 14.35% -0.34% -2.30%
IE 7.0 2.54% 1.53% -1.01% -39.80%
IE 6.0 1.17% 0.66% -0.51% -43.60%
Firefox 4.0+ 21.38% 22.67% +1.29% +6.00%
Firefox 3.7- 3.48% 2.90% -0.58% -16.70%
Chrome 31.29% 32.51% +1.22% +3.90%
Safari 7.14% 7.08% -0.06% -0.80%
Opera 1.70% 1.78% +0.08% +4.70%
Others 0.94% 0.93% -0.01% -1.10%
IE (all) 34.07% 32.13% -1.94% -5.70%
Firefox (all) 24.86% 25.57% +0.71% +2.90%

The table shows market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column shows the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. another 43.6% of IE6 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

The major news: Internet Explorer has been knocked off the top of the browser chart for the first time in 14 years. Google Chrome has become the world’s most-used browser; an amazing effort when you consider it was released less than four years ago.

While Chrome’s growth fell a little in April, it regained its normal 1%+ increase during May. Several sites reported Chrome had overtaken IE in the middle of the month but this couldn’t be confirmed until today:

  1. The browsers were close and the top spot changed with daily fluctuations.
  2. Many countries have public holidays during May which normally have a positive impact on Chrome but a negative effect on IE’s core business usage.
  3. StatCounter changed its recording methods to omit the effects of Chrome’s page pre-rendering technology (Chrome guesses what a user could click and begins background page downloads regardless of whether the page is viewed).

Chrome 18 is also the world’s most-used browser version with a 16.19% market share. It won’t last long since Chrome 19 already has 12.93% and users will eventually migrate.

The congratulations for Google are mirrored by commiserations for Microsoft. All versions of Internet Explorer lost ground including a small drop for IE9. But even Microsoft will be happy to see IE6 and IE7 reducing below 1% and 2% respectively. China is the only country where combined usage reaches a relatively high 17%.

Firefox remains the favorite browser for one quarter of users but it’s barely changed in three years. Safari, Opera and the others are fighting over the scraps.

The next question: how much further can Chrome grow? We now have a competitive browser market with one third of users on Chrome, another third on IE and the remaining users on Firefox, Safari and Opera. That’s a great situation with no dominant vendor. Let’s hope it remains that way.

Mobile Browser Usage

May’s mobile usage increased to 10.11% of all web activity.

The primary mobile browsing applications are:

  1. Opera Mini/Mobile – 21.90% (up 0.38%)
  2. Android — 21.06% (down 0.25%)
  3. iPhone — 19.50% (down 0.54%)
  4. Nokia browser — 11.53% (up 0.11%)
  5. UC Browser — 8.47% (up 0.70%)

There’s no change within the top five. The only significant trend is the continuing growth of UC Browser.

Can Chrome for Android become as disruptive as its desktop cousin?

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  • Lamont Cranston

    Now if we can just get a Chrome mobile edition…

    • @artwitto

      That’s why we have Dolphin Browser HD for Android.

  • http://www.leachcreative.com Andrew

    I wanna see IE die, hopefully their users will continue to drop until we no longer have to provide support for it.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      While IE has given us more than enough problems, that era has almost come to an end. IE9 is a good browser and IE10 looks promising. Microsoft is lagging behind a little, but the gap between them and the competition has narrowed significantly.

      Besides, would you be happy for Chrome to have a 70%+ market share? Or would you be concerned that Google not only controls the web, but also the application used to browse it? Would you trust them not to abuse their dominant position?

      The browser market is the most competitive it’s ever been. IE is part of the competition and deserves to be there.

      • http://Na AM

        Not true, they abandoned standards trying to make their own and need to die as a.message to other standards hackers.

  • http://www.accoladia.co.uk Neil

    I used IE for many years and was always happy with it, till I tried Chrome that is, a lot faster than my IE6 was. So it is Chrome all the way for me now, I wouldn’t like to go back to IE even if it is fast, simply because they took so long to do something, about the ever slowing speed of the browser.
    I take your point of someone having a massively large market share, but would they make the same mistakes that IE used to make, lets hope not.
    Regards