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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.

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.

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