Programming - - By Craig Buckler

Browser Trends April 2012: Chrome Crushes the Competition

We’re a quarter of the way through 2012 so it’s time to take another look at the worldwide browser market. Last month was bad for Microsoft and IE lost almost two percentage points — mostly to Google Chrome. Android also overtook Opera to become the most-used mobile browser. Has any company been made to look foolish in April’s worldwide StatCounter statistics?…

Browser February March change relative
IE 9.0+ 12.09% 14.56% +2.47% +20.40%
IE 8.0 18.86% 16.00% -2.86% -15.20%
IE 7.0 3.32% 2.91% -0.41% -12.30%
IE 6.0 1.48% 1.34% -0.14% -9.50%
Firefox 4.0+ 20.39% 21.11% +0.72% +3.50%
Firefox 3.7- 4.49% 3.88% -0.61% -13.60%
Chrome 29.88% 30.92% +1.04% +3.50%
Safari 6.76% 6.71% -0.05% -0.70%
Opera 2.02% 1.76% -0.26% -12.90%
Others 0.71% 0.81% +0.10% +14.10%
IE (all) 35.75% 34.81% -0.94% -2.60%
Firefox (all) 24.88% 24.99% +0.11% +0.40%

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 9.5% of IE6 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

It’s the same old story. Chrome leaped another 1% primarily at the expense of Internet Explorer. If we look at individual versions, Chrome 17 is the world’s most-used browser with a 27.2% share. IE8 is far behind in second place with 16.0%. At best, Microsoft has two or three months before Chrome overtakes IE’s total and we crown a new champion for the first time in 13 years.

There’s some consolation for Microsoft; IE9 was the fastest growing browser in March 2012. It gained another 2.5% of the market to increase its user base by 20% and become the most-used version in Europe and the US. Many users would have been upgrading XP to Vista/7 which is good for the company’s bottom line.

However, IE8 is dropping fast — and by more than I expected. Many of us doom-mongers prophesied IE8 would morph into another IE6 following Microsoft’s decision to abandon XP users. The browser’s unlikely to become irrelevant for a while but it’s almost certain to reach single-figures within a few months.

IE6 usage in China is still a concern and it retains almost 26% of the market. Elsewhere, IE6 and 7 combined share has dropped to 4.25% — or fewer than one in 20 users. You should always check your site’s figures but we’ve reached a point where there’s no need to spend a disproportionate amount of time developing and testing the browsers. IE6 and 7 are dead to me, but still rise like zombies now and again.

Firefox holds 25%. Version 11 has reached 6% within a few weeks and the 4+ line is growing steadily. That said, version 3 and below are dropping at a similar rate.

Both Safari and Opera dropped although statistical fluctuations are amplified by their relatively low figures. They’ll probably regain that loss next month.

Mobile Browser Usage

March’s mobile usage increased to 8.99% of all web activity.

The primary mobile browsing applications are:

  1. Opera Mini/Mobile — 22.86% (up 1.16%)
  2. Android — 21.16% (down 1.51%)
  3. iPhone — 20.10% (down 0.96%)
  4. Nokia browser — 11.86% 11.24% (up 0.62%)
  5. UC Browser — 6.35% (up 0.45%)

There’s more bad news for Blackberry. It dropped 0.35% to 6.18% and has been knocked out of the top five by UC Browser — an independent application for most platforms which users have to choose and install.

I hope Android enjoyed its single month at the top of the chart because Opera has regained the crown again. There’s a three-way tie between Opera, Android and the iPhone which highlights healthy competition in the market. Don’t make the mistake that everyone’s using the same phone as you!