Browser Trends February 2012: Chrome 16 Obliterates IE8

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I expected last month’s browser statistics to be a little unusual. With a large proportion of the western world on vacation, the ratio of home to business usage rises. Typically, IE usage would drop and the other browsers would rise. You’d expect IE fluctuations to stop following the return to business in January. So let’s look at the latest worldwide StatCounter statistics to see if that happened:

Browser December January change relative
IE 9.0+ 10.75% 11.45% +0.70% +6.50%
IE 8.0 22.12% 20.82% -1.30% -5.90%
IE 7.0 4.00% 3.63% -0.37% -9.30%
IE 6.0 1.78% 1.56% -0.22% -12.40%
Firefox 4.0+ 19.81% 20.01% +0.20% +1.00%
Firefox 3.7- 5.46% 4.77% -0.69% -12.60%
Chrome 27.33% 28.45% +1.12% +4.10%
Safari 6.09% 6.61% +0.52% +8.50%
Opera 1.99% 1.96% -0.03% -1.50%
Others 0.67% 0.74% +0.07% +10.40%
IE (all) 38.65% 37.46% -1.19% -3.10%
Firefox (all) 25.27% 24.78% -0.49% -1.90%

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 12.4% of IE6 users abandoned the browser last month. Party time! There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

I previously reported that, despite widespread reports, Chrome 15’s victory as the world’s most-used browser version was short-lived. The release of Chrome 16 on December 13 2011 split the user base so IE8 quickly retained its lead.

However, we’re now at the end of Chrome 16’s life. In fact, Chrome 17 is around a week overdue so the vast majority of Chrome users — 25.79% — are using version 16 (I was tempted to refer to it as ‘old’ but it’s hardly past its prime at seven weeks of age!) The next release will split Chrome’s user base again, but IE8 is losing ground too rapidly to keep up. It lost another 1.3% in January after a 1.88% drop the month before. The browser looks likely to dip below 20% during the next few weeks.

Although IE9 had a good month, overall, IE dropped 1.19%. Firefox also lost half a percent. While most of those users switched to Chrome, Safari also received a surprise boost. Did you receive a new Mac or iPad during the holidays? If so, perhaps you’re partially responsible for that half-percent jump.

Chrome is looking unbeatable. It’s monthly 1% rise is holding firm and it’s likely to overtake IE by the middle of the year.

Mobile Browser Usage

The mobile market remained busy during January and usage accounted for 8.49% of all web activity.

The primary mobile browsing applications are:

  1. Opera Mini/Mobile — 23.34% (down 0.88%)
  2. Android — 21.39% (up 1.17%)
  3. iPhone — 19.51% (up 1.10%)
  4. Nokia browser — 11.82% (down 1.10%)
  5. Blackberry — 6.68% (down 0.85%)

There’s little point reading too much into these figures; there are too many handset harlots switching phones more frequently than their underwear! The only obvious trend is Blackberry’s continuing misfortunes; but you don’t need browser statistics to see that.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

browserBrowser Trendsfirefoxgoogle chromeieoperasafariTrends
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