Early Stats: Google Chrome Hurts Firefox, not IE

Last week, Google declared its bold entry into the web browser market with the fully open source Chrome project (our coverage). It has been generally assumed that Google’s browser is a shot across Microsoft’s bow — either aiming at Internet Explorer or at Windows. But early evidence suggests that out of the gate, it is hurting Firefox more than anyone else.

A blog post at the StatCounter blog examining the first couple of days following the release of Chrome revealed that the browser gained an impressive 1% market share worldwide in just 24 hours. However, the stats also suggested that Firefox and Safari were the browsers shedding users for Chrome, and not IE.

StatCounter reported that both Firefox and Safari saw market share declines after Chrome was released (while IE inexplicably gained a few percentage points). Two days isn’t a lot of data to go on, though, so I thought I’d take a look at SitePoint’s browser stats as well, bearing in mind that SitePoint is an atypical site where over 50% of our users come to us using Firefox. The chart below shows the browser share on SitePoint for the first five days of Chrome’s release, and the day prior.

We saw a similar trend locally at SitePoint that StatCounter saw globally. By day 3, when Chrome hit its peak of 5.08% of all visits to SitePoint, Firefox had fallen off about 4.5%. Safari also saw a dip of a little over a percentage point.

I saw a similar occurrence on my forum site, where Firefox dropped from 71.59% on Monday (it’s a very tech-centric crowd) to 65.74% on Saturday, as Chrome shot up to 4.68%.

Takeaways

It’s impossible to draw any real conclusions from these numbers, as there’s just not enough data yet to do so. Daily fluctuations of a couple of percentage points in browser share are normal. Further, it makes sense that Firefox would see the biggest drop in users, as early adopters who are more likely to be using Firefox than IE, are the most likely to try out Chrome.

And given that Chrome doesn’t run on Mac yet, it is somewhat odd to see the dip in Safari usage (which was seen on both SitePoint and my own site, as well as globally by StatCounter). That means that share change may have been a normal fluctuation, and further illustrates the need for more data before we can draw any conclusions.

On both sites we looked at, Chrome has fallen off a bit since its peak at the middle of last week, though its share of the browser market is still above 4% on two very tech-centric sites. That’s impressive just a week after launch. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months. Will Chrome continue to draw users away from Firefox or will users switch back to Firefox until Chrome matures more? Will Google be able get it onto the desktops of mainstream IE users? When the Mac version of Chrome arrives, how will it affect Safari’s numbers? These are interesting questions that we can hopefully begin to answer over the next couple of months.

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  • alex

    I don’t like chrome, it is completely pointless and I hope that it never takes off. I for one will be sticking with firefox because of all the useful plugins. I would like to know how long it took google to develop chrome and did they create their own rendering engine?

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ brothercake

    Sigh, yet another browser to test in.

    I’m not even prepared to install it, that’s how little I trust Google these days. Short of hard, empirical evidence that it’s not reporting my browsing behavior back to Google, I don’t want the thing anywhere near any machine I use.

    Maybe if it was sandboxed and behind an anonymising proxy …

  • WMX

    I’m not really worried about Firefox losing market share. I think a lot of people are taking Chrome for a test drive but it’s not mature enough to stick with it for the time being. And I’m not at all surprised that it would be Firefox users who are up to testing Google’s new beta.

  • psalzer

    It makes sense that it would hurt FF first. FF users are more likely to be interested in alternative browsers than IE users. I’m liking Chrome a lot, and so is the rest of the family, including my husband who never could be bothered trying anything but IE before. Never paid any attention to my urging to try FF or Opera or anything, but he loves the speed of Chrome.

  • Tim

    I was chatting with some people about Chrome last week, and our take was that the entire marketing campaign (if you could call it that) has been aimed solely at tech savvy people. There is no immediate benefit to someone who doesn’t understand the difference between threading and process models, let alone security zones, sandboxing and virtual machines. Firefox gained share based on it’s push as a more secure and extensible browser. Chrome isn’t pushing anything unique to the average user, so it’s not likely to dent the IE market share for a long time to come.

    I’m still not sure I understand who they are targeting anyway. The fact it’s linked on the Google home page implies the general masses, except it has a big BETA tag on it. Granted not the first (or last) BETA product for the masses released by them, but all the “buzz” around it seems more targeted at the browser makers rather than the browser users. So why even bother linking it on the Google home page?

    (PS. Is there a way to turn off this comment preview? It’s a little disconcerting seeing my text appear twice on the page while I’m typing, not to mention the notify checkbox moves further away the longer I type)

  • Tim

    Can anyone explain why there are such massive speed variations in Chrome between users? I used it and found it was really slow. The guy sitting next to me found it was fast. Same hardware, same network. I’m seeing posts over the net indicating I’m not the only one seeing that. It also doesn’t play nicely with proxy servers.

  • Scorpiono

    I would have expected this after Firefox claimed to accept Yahoo as their sponsor. They mentioned that they will still hold Google search engine as default, but basically this rang a bell for big G and they have made Chrome.

  • http://mingz-online.com mingz

    To Tim:
    That’s why it’s beta. (I doubt whether it can get out of beta tag soon. Remember gmail is still beta now.) Some people can get speed advantages from chrome, whereas many others can’t. But according to Lifehacker’s test, Safari Windows edition still renders webpages with the fastest speed. Chrome is no quicker than FF. Even if chrome one day becomes faster than ff, that’s achieved in expense of extensibility. Without firebug and webdeveloper and source chart add-ons, I don’t see a possibility for me to use chrome as my main browser. Also note that chrome does have an immature javascript support. Have a look at how it renders iGoogle.

  • http://seotips4.com ntfu2

    I called it the day it was released. Anyone calling this a IE killer is a fool, this will destroy Firefox long, long before it starts to hurt IE

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Alex: As far as I know, Google has been secretly developing Chrome for about 2 years. And they’re using the Webkit rendering engine (the same one that Apple’s Safari and the iPhone/iPod Touch browsers use).

  • devAngel

    I dont know why but Chrome loads slow on me. And it crashes when I have four tabs open. Im sticking to Firefox

  • Rakesh Sivan

    Chrome is just in infancy stage, just going through the testing stage.. Personally I didn’t find anything BIG about this browser after working for couple of days, Firefox still runs wonderfully, even the older 2.0.0 versions with full extension supports

  • madr

    If they use the term “beta” correctly – all features available for debugging – Chrome miss one important part: a built-in RSS/Atom reader. Yeah, of course you could add a bookmarklet for Google Reader, but that’s not what I want. I don’t use Firefox as my main browser basically because I hate to depend on plugins for my every day tasks.

    Aside from that, I really liked it. Neat interface and Ctrl+XX quick navigation between tabs (a feature I hate to miss in my main browser Safari). If Chrome can offer the same PDF preview as Safari and implements a nice built-in RSS/Atom feed reader, It will become my browser of choice.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ mmj

    I think that it is a mistake to see this as a Chrome vs Firefox situation.

    The idealist in me sees this new competition as nothing but good for Firefox, because
    – Competition encourages innovation
    – Being both open source, they can freely borrow from each others’ code
    – Chrome is on Firefox’s side in the competition between open source and proprietary

  • Radoslav Stankov

    As I the visits of SitePoint in the last few day have increase of Google Chrome, I think is because the primary SitePoint visitors are developers. And as developers we test new thing and I was browsing with Chrome for a some days now. But today I return to my Firefox. And if you look at the chart you see that after day 3 it is decreasing ( after the test time ;) )

  • the moose

    I have to say that I think, as I have done since the day it was announced that it will kick Fire Fox into touch before anything else. I mean, I understand where they are coming from, wanting to attack the stats of the main-stream browser, but if they are going to do that, then the people who will be testing it first will be the people who looked to switch from IE in the first place (i.e. the FF users), as they did that in the first place (I.E. -> F.F.).

    Personally, I am using Chrome at the moment because it has some interesting features I am testing out – I am finding the new tab page a delight as I always felt that was something that Fire Fox lacked (am sure there is an add-on though, but I still am not going to convert due to the lack of support for add-ons – which I use every day. I mean, I opened up chrome this morning, to send a screenshot to someone, and where was my screen-grab….oh thats right this is Chrome :-(. If they managed to support the FF add-ons in Chrome, then yes, they could well get rid of FF, and then start converting the IE users.

  • ionix5891

    ive been on chrome for a week and am happy, its fast and my laptop is speeding along now that it doesnt have to support that obesity that firefox has become

  • Seether13

    I think it is a nice browser for your typical web user, but nothing can beat the customizability of FF at this stage

  • ghostme

    @Seether13
    Agree with you totally.

    If Chrome comes along with all the useful plugins that FireFox those, we will definately observe a decline in its speed. On the flip, I think Opera speeds has been underrated for long.
    As for me and my dial up connection it is the fastest I know of.

  • http://www.flywalk.co.uk themightystephen

    And given that Chrome doesn’t run on Mac yet, it is somewhat odd to see the dip in Safari usage (which was seen on both SitePoint and my own site, as well as globally by StatCounter). That means that share change may have been a normal fluctuation, and further illustrates the need for more data before we can draw any conclusions.

    The reason Safari has been affected is that there is a Windows version of Safari and people with iTunes and iPod updates also get the Safari (windows version) browser dropped into the download package as well. So there must be some people on Windows machines that decided to use Safari and some of these have changed to Chrome (at least for the moment).

  • Biggus Dickus

    Look at it from a different angle. Google is about the release an OS for the latest generation of mobile devices. Devices designed to make extensive use of mobile internet, opening a huge market with endless possibilities.
    For that, they preferably need their own browser running on their own OS. And to me it makes sense they want to have their browser tried out on regular computers first (preferably by tech savvy people to receive better/more feedback) before installing it on less tolerant mobile devices.
    Like that Google might actually be able to cut a massive piece of the MS pie (Internet Explorer Mobile), but in a different and potentially more important market.

  • chrgoog

    Chrome has inherited a potentially serious security flaw from the old version of WebKit it is based on.

  • zuneone

    I have no intention of using Chrome and am quite happy with IE8.

  • http://www.wyhinfo.com mattcch2007

    Still using IE and Opera,

    best combination for my works.

    mattcch2007

  • Freek Lijten

    Kind of makes sense doesn’t it. People using Firefox are more often the not the ‘progressive’ internet users. My father will never use anything else then IE which – the thought alone of using a browser to download another will be very weird to him – not a problem at all, but he surely won’t use Chrome as well. I’m guessing this goes for a lot of IE users. They use it because it is on there computer anyway and a) haven’t heard of other browsers or b) can’t be bothered. Firefox users once wen’t away from using a browser because another browser promised to be more fun / profit (time) / usable / something else, so chances are they will do this again.

  • scruffy

    There is no Linux version yet so I can’t try it. Then again, I wouldn’t trust Google with all of the other data they collect on people. If I did download it then it would only be to try it, and any copy I keep will not be my main browser – that is Firefox – but only for testing out my websites.

  • Milo

    That was already obvious out of the gate.

    Users of IE are loyal to IE otherwise they should have transferred to Firefox long ago. Users of Firefox on the other side are most likely prior users of IE who just switched to Firefox and these people would most likely try out another browser if it felt good enough.

    IE users have the loyal mentality or the lockdown to IE status especially if they are in the enterprise, pre-installed, home computers, etc.

    Milo
    Techticles.com

  • Nick

    While FF is the better browser (firebug alone does this), A massive percent of web users are not techy. They simply do not know or care about “better” browsers.

    Most members of my family think internet explorer is the internet, its a csae of “I want to go online so i click the internet button”.

    I agree Google chrome is fast and a very good browser, but I for one an not entirly happy with google knowing “everything” about me. (google is skynet).

    What the web needs is a firefox plugin that allows you to render the site in any browser (such as the dog ie6) yet still use add-ons (firebug) on the page. For me this would be debug heaven.

    Although the web is changing (for the better), we still have to accommodate below par browsers for many years to come.

    Nick

  • Doug

    Chrome is an excellent browser right off the bat, even with this first beta release. Very fast, very simple and well thought out. In the long run, I do not see it taking shares off of Firefox however, but off of IE. The FF crowd likes the customization power of FF. The mainstream crowd couldn’t care less for add-ons (if anything IE has taught them it’s that add-on toolbars are bad: occupy space for nothing, slow down everything etc), but they have several ingredients in favor for Chrome: simplicity, speed, and a great brand is offering it. Furthermore, if the Android takes off, installing Chrome on the PC for Android owners will be a natural thing to do.

  • Rem

    What i think is.. either IE users are people who dont know that a different alternative exists or are too lazy to get a new one. so in he numbes on IE wont change.. it’ll remain un-chromed.

    the immature javascript behaviour of chrome will only cause problems for us developers.. i hope chrome wont hit it until it renders pages like FF or better. cheers!!

  • Jay

    I think the reason is this:
    Most users who use IE just use it because it’s the default. Chrome is clearly better than IE, but so was Firefox. If they didn’t switch to Firefox from IE, they’re *not* going to switch to Chrome. It’s as simple as that. IE just won’t lose market share.

    Firefox, however, is used by people who already wanted to replace IE, for various reasons. Chrome is (in my opinion) better than Firefox in some respects, and worse in others. However, it stands to reason some people who had switched to Firefox because it was better than IE will switch again to Chrome because, when all said and done, some people believe it’s better than Firefox.

    Summary: IE users are only IE users because it’s with Windows, while Firefox users went out to get it. Chrome will only really replace Firefox users. Get it?

  • Jay

    @madr: Yes, you are probably expected to use Google Reader. However, Chrome seems to be hyped up as a web app window more than a browser. That’s what they’re going for: Instead of the (very crappy) Chrome bookmarks, use Google Bookmarks, instead of an RSS reader, use Google Reader. Chrome seems to be trying to wean people off of running things on their own machine and keeping them instead on the interwebs. This has plenty of advantages, and plenty of disadvantages. I like it because setting up Google apps in Firefox means I can keep everything synced between both browsers and all computers, but at the same time I wish it was integrated into Chrome a little bit more.

  • akshay

    I installed google chrome yesterday and it is very fast than the other browsers. Actually last night I was looking for poker betting sites (for writing an article on casino, iam aspiring writer) and book mark them in internet explorer. But when i installed chrome, same bookmarks can be seen there as well at the right side of the page. I don’t know how to deleate them, i didn’t found any option. How can i ?

  • rolf

    I guess theyre trying to repeat their gmail success, except that this time theres already another competitor… firefox.
    I think theyre targeting teenagers and young users, those dont know what threaded tabs are, but theyll think that its a great/cool thing (basically thats how apple marketing works).
    I am still sticking to firefox, but I think chrome will take off… The targeted users dont care about addons and dont check browser memory usage like me.