By Craig Buckler

Browser Trends April 2012: Chrome Crushes the Competition

By Craig Buckler

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!

  • Opera Mobile is beating out the iPhone? 1) This just doesn’t seem logical. There are more people going out of their way to install/use Opera than the default base of iPhone users? 2) Since when is “iPhone” a web browser? I thought it was called Safari (i.e. Webkit). 3) Where are all the iPad users in this data?

    • It’s the standard iPhone browser (Safari/webkit-based).

      Not everyone has an iPhone – or even a smartphone. The vast majority of the world uses a Nokia or similar and you’ll find Opera installed as standard. It’s certainly the best option for lower-spec hardware.

      The iPad is included in the desktop Safari share. It currently accounts for 1.89% of that total.

  • “IE6 and 7 are dead to me”

    Same here.

    • jlemesur

      IE6 and IE7 were dead to me too until I was reviewing a site with a client and quickly realized they were using IE6. I was horrified. I just did not build the site for IE6. You can imagine the result.

  • Chrome is so close to overtaking all IE browsers.

  • alan p. may

    Google chrome would be the most unmitigated disaster I have ever installed, unfortunately I use a laptop and since agreeing to install Chrome the most common phrase on my screen is “THESE PAGES HAVE BECOME UNRESPONSIVE” I really think that people grasped at Chrome anticipating a vast improvement, especially those unfortunate enough to be stuck with “Vista” , it appears to me that the two have teamed up to become “back alley gang of confusion”


    • Why don’t you try uninstalling it? Seems like an isolated issue, I’ve installed Chrome on dozens of computers and never any issues at all..

  • Dave Maxwell

    Interesting that it all depends on the source of the data – I found this link in my rss feed reader this morning (and yes, I did check the date on the post before I posted it…)

    • Absolutely – and both could be right for their sample set. StatCounter does collect data from more sites, though.

  • Personally I find it more user friendly and lightweight chrome, I use it for more than 2 years.

  • Chrome is a fantastic browser and I’m glad to see that everyone is finally catching up and using it

  • “If we look at individual versions, Chrome 17 is the world’s most-used browser with a 27.2% share.”

    Is this just a way to make developers feel good to take IE / 4 to give Chrome the lion’s share? Doesn’t Chrome update automatically, thereby eliminating older versions, whereas IE doesn’t?

    While Chrome is my preferred browser, IE claims 55% (all versions) on sites that I manage. I understand that that’s a poor sampling, but in my diminutive world it’s a big reality.

  • Joe

    I can work so much faster in Chrome. All of the most common controls are condensed in the top left. I use the back button, close tabs, open tabs, refresh, visit my most used bookmarks and type in the url bar to search or go to a site. All of these controls are within 300 or so pixels from each other. I don’t need to mouse over to the other side of the page to get things done.

    My mouse is set to ultra fast. I hate when I need to get on another computer and it takes a few seconds for me just to move the pointer where I need it.

    Fast and efficient is how I like things. Google has both. I am not sure why the other browsers don’t get it. I get annoyed every time I use IE and FF because they have everything spread out.

  • mark

    I build websites and do my development in Firefox, then once it looks good and functions as should I check them in IE6,7,8,9, the latest Chrome, Opera, Safari for win, because you just never know what your visitor is going to be using…

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