Browser Trends April 2013: is Chrome Unstoppable?

March ended one week ago but, just as you think the browser market is stabilizing, Google puts another spring in its step. Here are the latest figures according to StatCounter

Worldwide Browser Statistics February 2013 to March 2013

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.

Browser February March change relative
IE (all) 29.82% 29.29% -0.53% -1.80%
IE 9.0+ 18.08% 18.07% -0.01% -0.10%
IE 8.0 10.76% 10.29% -0.47% -4.40%
IE 7.0 0.68% 0.64% -0.04% -5.90%
IE 6.0 0.30% 0.29% -0.01% -3.30%
Firefox 21.34% 20.85% -0.49% -2.30%
Chrome 37.11% 38.13% +1.02% +2.70%
Safari 8.58% 8.48% -0.10% -1.20%
Opera 1.23% 1.16% -0.07% -5.70%
Others 1.92% 2.09% +0.17% +8.90%

Worldwide Browser Statistics March 2012 to March 2013

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser March 2012 March 2013 change relative
IE (all) 34.81% 29.29% -5.52% -15.90%
IE 9.0+ 14.56% 18.07% +3.51% +24.10%
IE 8.0 16.00% 10.29% -5.71% -35.70%
IE 7.0 2.91% 0.64% -2.27% -78.00%
IE 6.0 1.34% 0.29% -1.05% -78.40%
Firefox 24.99% 20.85% -4.14% -16.60%
Chrome 30.92% 38.13% +7.21% +23.30%
Safari 6.71% 8.48% +1.77% +26.40%
Opera 1.76% 1.16% -0.60% -34.10%
Others 0.81% 2.09% +1.28% +158.00%

The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. another 5.9% of IE7 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

Just as I think Google cannot possibly increase their share further, Chrome takes another 1% bite of the browser market. The last time this occurred was July 2012. To put it into context, that’s the equivalent of every Opera user or all combined IE6 and IE7 users abandoning their browser in a single month.

Chrome was the only mainstream browser with positive growth last month and it’s clear other vendors are struggling to compete. Does Google have an unfair commercial advantage? Few users pass a day without using the search engine, GMail, Analytics, Reader or another vital service which politely suggests they switch to Chrome. Google also has the cash reserves to promote their browser on prime-time television, at the movies, in newspapers and magazines. And let’s not forget Google controls the world’s most-used smartphone platform and Chrome OS.

That said, advertising would be worthless without a good application. Developers like Chrome. Users like Chrome. Even the most ardent IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera fanboys have little bad to say about the browser. It may no longer enjoy significant technical advantages but other vendors must either produce more competitive software or hope Google becomes complacent.

IE9 has been hovering around 18% for six months but IE10 has begun to cannibalize its share following the recent Windows 7 update. At the end of March, IE9 had 15.81% and IE10 2.26%. IE8 dropped more than any other browser and looks likely to fall below 10% this month. IE6 and IE7 barely changed but they’ve become mostly insignificant.

Firefox fell another 0.5% and it’s starting to look like a monthly trend. The browser works well on Windows and is more than a match for Chrome but I suspect it’s lost most ground on Mac, Linux and mobile platforms. Unless Mozilla can convince users to stay, Firefox could drop below 20% by the end of May 2013.

Safari had a better month than most but almost 6% of Opera users abandoned the desktop browser. That could be a statistical anomaly or perhaps users are unimpressed with the company’s switch to Webkit? Let’s see how they fare on mobile devices…

Mobile Browser Usage

Mobile usage increased a fraction to 14.44% of all web activity during March 2013.

The primary mobile browsing applications:

  1. Android — 30.78% (down 0.76%)
  2. iPhone — 24.44% (up 0.08%)
  3. Opera Mini/Mobile – 15.54% (up 0.14%)
  4. UC Browser — 8.27% (down 0.07%)
  5. Nokia browser — 6.96% (up 0.05%)

It’s difficult to spot trends because the mobile market is erratic and influenced by local factors. For example, the iPhone is massively popular in western countries, but less so in Asia, Africa and South America where Android and Opera compete for the top spot.

There’s been a slightly unusual fall for Android but I wouldn’t read too much into that. The Chrome mobile browser has a 2.02% market share and is starting to increase as rapidly as its desktop cousin. Google is everywhere.

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