Browser Trends August 2011: Firefox 5 Grows by 400%

Craig Buckler
Craig Buckler

July 2011 was a relatively quiet — perhaps vendors are enjoying a summer holiday following several months of frantic activity in the browser market.

However, that hasn’t stopped fickle users switching applications. The headline news is that the number of Firefox 5 users has more than quadrupled during the past 31 days. But you need to look at the full StatCounter statistics to reveal the true picture…

Browser June July change relative
IE 9.0 6.18% 7.27% +1.09% +17.60%
IE 8.0 27.67% 26.30% -1.37% -5.00%
IE 7.0 6.00% 5.45% -0.55% -9.20%
IE 6.0 3.72% 3.42% -0.30% -8.10%
Firefox 5.0+ 2.81% 14.28% +11.47% +408.20%
Firefox 4.0 14.04% 3.38% -10.66% -75.90%
Firefox 3.5+ 10.44% 9.36% -1.08% -10.30%
Firefox 3.1- 1.05% 0.94% -0.11% -10.50%
Chrome 20.67% 22.17% +1.50% +7.30%
Safari 5.07% 5.15% +0.08% +1.60%
Opera 1.74% 1.66% -0.08% -4.60%
Others 0.61% 0.62% +0.01% +1.60%
IE (all) 43.57% 42.44% -1.13% -2.60%
Firefox (all) 28.34% 27.96% -0.38% -1.30%

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 8.1% of IE6 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

While Firefox 5.0 enjoyed massive growth, it was released at the end of June so July provided the first full month of usage statistics. At the same time, Firefox 4.0 collapsed to 3.38% — in effect, the versions swapped places in the table.

Together, Firefox 4.0 and 5.0 grew by 0.81%. However, version 3.x and previous editions dropped by 1.19% giving an overall net loss of 0.38% for Mozilla’s browsers.

IE9 had another good month as more users migrated to the newer browser and, presumably, Windows Vista or 7 — the only OS’s which can run it. IE8 usage continues to drop by more than 1% per month. IE6 and 7 usage fell again and, while that’s good news, the browsers are still used by more people than Safari, Opera, and the “Others” combined. Overall, IE made a net loss of 1.13% — perhaps those users want to increase their IQ?!

Amazingly, Chrome usage grew by a further 1.5% in July — one of the largest monthly increases it’s ever experienced. Google is rapidly catching Mozilla and Chrome 12 overtook Firefox 4/5 again to become the world’s second most-used browser. That said, the rapid update schedules confuse the statistics. Firefox 5 will retake the #2 spot when Chrome 13 is released and the cycle will restart again.

Safari had a modest increase. Opera had a modest fall. However, it’s been a long time since Opera made a market gain.

Mobile Browser Usage

According to StatCounter, desktop browsers account for 92.98% of web activity. Mobile usage grew by almost 0.5% last month to 7.02%. This could be a seasonal anomaly and, interestingly, there was little movement within the mobile browser market. Perhaps that’s because we’re a few months away from present-buying season…

  1. Opera Mini/Mobile — 22.07% (down 0.74%)
  2. Android — 18.17% (up 0.92%)
  3. Nokia browser — 17.10% (down 0.56%)
  4. iPhone — 15.10% (down 0.12%)
  5. Blackberry — 12.30% (up 0.32%)

Android has overtaken Nokia’s browser to claim the #2 spot.

The iPhone continued to slide a little although it should be noted that the iPod Touch is at #6 with 4.85%. Apple enjoys a disproportionate quantity of technical news and development tutorial coverage. Geeks may love the devices, but be aware they account for less than 20% of the mobile browser market.