Browser Trends February 2015: The US IE8 Rebound

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In last month’s browser trends report, Internet Explorer 8.0 tripled in the USA. How does it fare in the latest figures from StatCounter?…

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, December 2014 to January 2015

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

Browser December January change relative
IE (all) 22.28% 19.26% -3.02% -13.60%
IE11 11.31% 10.74% -0.57% -5.00%
IE10 2.23% 1.94% -0.29% -13.00%
IE9 2.89% 2.53% -0.36% -12.50%
IE6/7/8 5.85% 4.05% -1.80% -30.80%
Chrome 46.22% 48.26% +2.04% +4.40%
Firefox 16.34% 16.96% +0.62% +3.80%
Safari 4.24% 4.45% +0.21% +5.00%
iPad Safari 6.05% 5.82% -0.23% -3.80%
Opera 1.38% 1.52% +0.14% +10.10%
Others 3.49% 3.73% +0.24% +6.90%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, January 2014 to January 2015

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

Browser January 2014 January 2015 change relative
IE (all) 22.83% 19.26% -3.57% -15.60%
IE11 7.50% 10.74% +3.24% +43.20%
IE10 4.41% 1.94% -2.47% -56.00%
IE9 3.73% 2.53% -1.20% -32.20%
IE6/7/8 7.19% 4.05% -3.14% -43.70%
Chrome 43.74% 48.26% +4.52% +10.30%
Firefox 18.90% 16.96% -1.94% -10.30%
Safari 9.71% 10.27% +0.56% +5.80%
Opera 1.26% 1.52% +0.26% +20.60%
Others 3.56% 3.73% +0.17% +4.80%

(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. 13% of IE10 users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.)

Phew. The market has returned to normality and most browsers rebounded to their pre-December trajectories. So why did IE8 US usage jump from 5.03% in November to 14.37% in December and back to 6.46% in January? StatCounter has added a note on the US statistics

Despite extensive investigations we have not found any evidence of bot or other invalid activity in the December stats. This spike in IE 8.0 may have been a seasonal issue as stats have now returned to levels more commonly seen earlier in 2014.

If it was a seasonal issue, why didn’t it occur in Canada, Europe, Australia or anywhere else with similar festive celebrations?

There have been spikes in the US before — IE8 increased from 8.37% to 13.91% between July and September 2013 — but that wasn’t close to the same magnitude and occurred over several months.

We may never discover the real reason behind IE8’s phantom jump. Perhaps it’s just a statistical blip — unless you can concoct a better conspiracy theory?

The anomaly means this month’s figures look terrible for Internet Explorer but, overall, it’s only lost 0.34% during the past couple of months. The other loser was Safari on the iPad which is strange given the recent gift-giving season and Apple’s record-breaking $18 billion profit for the last quarter. It’s possible the new and larger iPhone 6+ is cannibalizing some of the iPad’s market share.

Chrome’s figures look impressive but, in reality, the browser has increased by just 0.11% since November 2014. Firefox and Safari gained a little ground but the biggest winner was Opera with a 10% increase in users. The numbers are comparatively low so small changes are magnified but the browser is maturing and it’s a snappier alternative to Chrome.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, December 2014 to January 2015

Mobile usage in January dipped by three-quarters of a point to reach 33.24% of all web activity. It’s the first drop since April 2014 but is unlikely to be a long-term trend.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser December January change relative
Chrome 29.76% 29.22% -0.54% -1.80%
iPhone 21.94% 20.97% -0.97% -4.40%
Android 18.87% 19.07% +0.20% +1.10%
UC Browser 11.10% 12.07% +0.97% +8.70%
Opera Mini/Mobile 9.11% 9.55% +0.44% +4.80%
Nokia Browser 2.83% 2.84% +0.01% +0.40%
IEMobile 2.15% 2.12% -0.03% -1.40%
Others 4.24% 4.16% -0.08% -1.90%

Surprisingly, Chrome and Safari fell while most of the older, less sophisticated browsers enjoyed a slight rise. It’s the first time Chrome mobile usage has fallen since its release but it’s still beating the others by a considerable margin.

See you next month.

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.

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