Browser Trends February 2014: Safari Success

By Craig Buckler
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Where did January go? The start of the year is rarely revolutionary in the browser world, so let’s examine the latest figures from StatCounter

Worldwide Browser Statistics December 2013 to January 2014

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

Browser December January change relative
IE (all) 23.22% 22.83% -0.39% -1.70%
IE11 6.33% 7.50% +1.17% +18.50%
IE10 5.49% 4.41% -1.08% -19.70%
IE9 3.95% 3.73% -0.22% -5.60%
IE8 6.80% 6.61% -0.19% -2.80%
IE7 0.30% 0.25% -0.05% -16.70%
IE6 0.35% 0.33% -0.02% -5.70%
Chrome 43.99% 43.74% -0.25% -0.60%
Firefox 18.94% 18.90% -0.04% -0.20%
Safari 9.13% 9.71% +0.58% +6.40%
Opera 1.28% 1.26% -0.02% -1.60%
Others 3.44% 3.56% +0.12% +3.50%

Worldwide Browser Statistics January 2013 to January 2014

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

Browser January 2013 January 2014 change relative
IE (all) 30.70% 22.83% -7.87% -25.60%
IE11 0.00% 7.50% +7.50% n/a
IE10 0.98% 4.41% +3.43% +350.00%
IE9 17.54% 3.73% -13.81% -78.70%
IE8 11.12% 6.61% -4.51% -40.60%
IE7 0.73% 0.25% -0.48% -65.80%
IE6 0.33% 0.33% +0.00% +0.00%
Chrome 36.55% 43.74% +7.19% +19.70%
Firefox 21.43% 18.90% -2.53% -11.80%
Safari 8.27% 9.71% +1.44% +17.40%
Opera 1.19% 1.26% +0.07% +5.90%
Others 1.86% 3.56% +1.70% +91.40%

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. 19.7% of IE10 users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

Weird. IE, Chrome, Firefox and Opera all had small, fairly insignificant drops in market share. Safari was the big winner with a considerably large 0.6% jump. Not everything is as it seems, though. Analysis of the detailed StatCounter CSV data reveals:

  • 4.67% is Safari for Mac (and possibly a handful of Windows users)
  • 5.04% is Safari for iPad.

One in twenty web visits is from a user with an iPad. That’s astonishing given the Kindle accounts for just 0.25%.

It’s not all good news for Apple, however. Growth for the desktop version of Safari is stagnant at best; the browser is losing ground to Chrome. Would the iPad version suffer similarly if Apple reversed their ban on competing browsers? Could that happen given Apple is enjoying a tablet monopoly? It’s a position which tends to attract the attention of lawyers and regulators.

My advice to Apple: open iOS to other browser vendors. If Safari falls too far behind other applications, developers and users will abandon their iPads. But what do I know? Apple is doing incredibly well in their walled garden.

Other news: IE11 had the biggest jump — primarily at IE10’s expense. It’s also irritating to see IE6 with exactly the same market share as this time last year. has an interesting proposal: they’re offering a free PC to any of their users still stuck on IE7:

We determined that it would cost us more to support a browser from 2006 in 2014 and beyond than it would to help our clients upgrade their legacy hardware.

It’s a clever marketing ploy since no one can be “stuck” on IE7 — even XP users can upgrade to IE8 or use a different browser. Let’s hope it persuades a few people to abandon their aging browsers.

Mobile Browser Usage

Following last month’s massive jump, mobile usage increased a little more to reach 23.77% of all web activity during January.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser December January change relative
Android 26.63% 27.00% +0.37% +1.40%
iPhone 19.65% 21.38% +1.73% +8.80%
Opera Mini/Mobile 16.34% 14.61% -1.73% -10.60%
UC Browser 11.78% 11.57% -0.21% -1.80%
Chrome 7.36% 8.59% +1.23% +16.70%
Nokia Browser 6.76% 6.11% -0.65% -9.60%
Blackberry 3.03% 2.58% -0.45% -14.90%
Others 8.45% 8.16% -0.29% -3.40%

Did everyone receive an iPhone or iPad in December?! It looks that way. Google also had another good month with Chrome racing up the mobile chart as fast as it did on the desktop.

The big losers are Blackberry, Opera and Nokia. They’re struggling to compete against the dominance of the iPhone and Android and I’m not convinced they can turn the situation around.

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  • I’d love to see geo-location on legacy browsers and older IE versions. I’m guessing the majority of which is deprived nations with minimal economical growth. It’s almost pointless supporting IE9 and its predecessors now.

  • Wez Pyke

    Android browser for Gingerbread is the new IE.

  • Taking a step back for a second, I find it positively thrilling that we have such a healthy browser landscape, with multiple viable players, that merits articles like this one being written.

  • Thanks for the analysis Craig. The drop in market share for Opera, Firefox, IE and Chrome is pretty strange. What do you feel about the reasons behind?

    • Craig Buckler

      Remember a drop in market share doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in usage since the number of internet users is still growing. I suspect in this case it’s just a blip. I don’t think Safari is suddenly going to become more popular than the others.

  • imagestic

    …and yet, there are almost 500.000.000 Windows XP users in the world, that are stuck with IE8.
    Microsoft should be upgrading WinXp Instead of forcing everyone to abandon the OS.

  • marko vukićević

    I don’t think so. In my opinion majority of legacy browser population comes from a large corporations with inert systems.

  • Finn Balle-Larsen

    Two things. It may be “only” a small drop for IE with -0.4% points in one month, but it adds up to 4.8% points in a year. Looking at the latest year IE decline of approx. 8% points per year, IE will be gone in three years. That leds me to the second point. There are only 0.25% users using IE6. Why would you support that specific browser. Ask them politely to upgrade to Chrome or Firefox. Even if they are using Windows XP, moving them to IE8, is not really solving the problem. IE8 is at 6.6% declining at a rate of 40% per year.