The browser market seemed relatively sedate during 2012. There were no big releases, major updates or disruptive surprises (sorry Microsoft — IE10’s a fine browser, but it’s hardly revolutionary). Fortunately, it rarely matters whether a user chooses Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera or IE9+ — they’re all capable applications which support most HTML5 features and run at a fast pace. So let’s look at the latest browser market statistics according to StatCounter…
Worldwide Browser Statistics November 2012 to December 2012
The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.
Worldwide Browser Statistics December 2011 to December 2012
The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:
|Browser||December 2011||December 2012||change||relative|
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. another 7.3% of IE6 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.
December is a slightly unusual month owing to the holiday seasons and hangover-induced work avoidance. Internet Explorer tends to fare a little worse since the ratio of home to business usage increases. That said, it’s surprising to look back at the market twelve months ago when…
- IE was the world’s most-used browser
- IE6 and 7 accounted for more than 6 in every 100 users
- Chrome and Firefox were neck and neck with a quarter of the market each.
At the beginning of 2013, Chrome had switched places with IE and enticed a number of Firefox users too. While I expected Chrome to overtake Microsoft’s browser, I didn’t expect the rapid pace of growth to continue. To put it into context, Chrome grows by a volume equivalent to Opera’s total user base every two months.
Speaking of which, Opera has had a poor couple of months. Perhaps it’s a statistical blip, but Opera appears to have lost a few passionate followers. It’s still a great browser but the competition has caught and overtaken in some respects.
Firefox fared almost as badly as IE8 during December 2013. It remains my preferred application but I’m a Windows user and it’s had more problems on other platforms. I also suspect it’s lost ground because it’s rarely supplied as a default browser; even Linux distros are replacing it with Chromium.
However, the good news story of 2012 is the demise of IE6 and IE7. The browsers are still used and I can’t promise you’ll never need to support them, but the days of frustrated HTML and CSS hacking are coming to an end (especially when you can use responsive techniques instead). But never forget their legacy. Anyone who longs for a single browser engine should be ridiculed and have their web development license revoked!
Mobile Browser Usage
Mobile usage increased by 1.5% to 14.55% of all web activity during December. I’m a little surprised by that figure — perhaps everyone was tweeting festive messages?
The primary mobile browsing applications:
- Android — 28.28% (up 1.13%)
- iPhone — 20.64% (down 0.34%)
- Opera Mini/Mobile – 16.94% (down 1.05%)
- UC Browser — 10.20% (up 1.12%)
- Nokia browser — 9.08% (down 0.26%)
While it’s a little early to assess mobile device gift-giving figures, Android continues to do well. UC Browser has also overtaken Nokia to grab the #4 spot.
Opera Mini/Mobile is also in decline. It remains one of the best feature phone browsers but has stronger competition in the smart phone market. I also suspect most people stick with their phone’s supplied browser, although the strong adoption of UC contradicts that assumption?
Whatever browser you’re using, I hope you have a Happy New Year!
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.