Browser Trends January 2016: 12 Month Review

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As we move into a new year, it’s time to check the latest StatCounter statistics and discover how the most popular browsers in the market fared during 2015…

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, November to December 2015

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.
IE (all)15.45%15.16%-0.29%-1.90%
iPad Safari5.05%5.08%+0.03%+0.60%

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

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:
BrowserDecember 2014December 2015changerelative
IE (all)22.28%15.16%-7.12%-32.00%
(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. Edge’s user base grew 20.7% last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)
December can be an unusual month for the browser market:
  • it’s gift-giving season — many people are trying their new PCs, tablets and smartphones
  • much of the Western world is on vacation so business access is reduced accordingly, and
  • various celebrations and more extreme weather can affect usage patterns.
Bizarrely, all the top browsers dropped. Chrome and Firefox suffered, although IE’s fall was fairly small compared to some months in 2015. The winners were:
  • Safari on Mac OS — up 0.56%. Perhaps a larger proportion of people use Macs at home but the hike seems strange given the iOS versions of Safari barely changed?
  • Edge on Windows 10 — up 0.25%. This had the largest relative increase of more than 20%. This could be explained by people receiving new PCs or deciding to upgrade Windows 7/8 while business was quieter.
  • Opera — up 0.3%. Opera’s market share now exceeds 2% for the first time since March 2011. Opera is popular in Africa and Asia, so those regions possibly have a bigger influence when the US, Europe and Australia are less web-active.
There are no simple explanations, and all these movements could be temporary end-of-year blips. Overall, 2015 was a relatively stable year for the browser market. IE’s demise continued, although the revitalized Edge offset some of the losses. Firefox and Safari stumbled while Opera continued to hover under 2% for most of the year. Chrome continues as the undisputed champion with a 6.12% jump. The browser is great, but I am concerned we’re unconsciously heading toward another monoculture era. Web developers should always install as many browsers as possible. Don’t be afraid to try alternatives and switch applications on a whim — they’re all good. My usage became increasingly erratic during 2015. Firefox remains my default but I use Chrome on my phone, regularly open Opera for development (it starts noticeably faster than Chrome despite having the same rendering engine), and switch to Edge for testing and PDF viewing. (Who needs the frustratingly slow and bloated Adobe Reader?)

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, November to December 2015

December’s mobile usage regained 1% to reach 40.65% of all web activity. The month can be a little unusual, but I expect mobile growth to continue its upward trend into 2016
. The top mobile browsing applications:
Mobile BrowserNovemberDecemberchangerelative
UC Browser16.94%18.57%+1.63%+9.60%
Opera Mini/Mobile11.37%11.17%-0.20%-1.80%
It’s all change in the chart. UC Browser overtook the iPhone to retake the #2 spot, while Opera moved to #4 at the expense of the aging Android browser. Again, this could owe much to users in Africa and Asia having greater impact during December. That said, it’s surprising to see both Chrome and Safari dropping at a time when many are receiving Android and iPhone smartphones as gifts? Perhaps few people asked for a new phone this year? Have a great 2016, no matter what browsers you’re using!

What are the key factors that influence browser trends?

The key factors that influence browser trends include the speed and performance of the browser, security features, user interface, compatibility with different devices, and the availability of extensions and add-ons. Additionally, the reputation of the browser developer and the level of customer support provided can also influence user preference and, consequently, browser trends.

How does the market share of different browsers change over time?

The market share of different browsers can change over time due to various factors. These include technological advancements, changes in user preferences, the introduction of new browsers, and updates or improvements to existing browsers. For instance, a browser that introduces innovative features or offers enhanced security may see an increase in its market share.

What is the significance of understanding browser market share?

Understanding browser market share is crucial for web developers and businesses. It helps them ensure that their websites and applications are compatible with the most commonly used browsers. This can enhance user experience and accessibility, leading to increased traffic and potentially higher conversion rates.

How does the usage share of web browsers vary across different regions?

The usage share of web browsers can vary significantly across different regions due to factors such as internet accessibility, cultural preferences, and the prevalence of certain devices. For example, in regions where mobile internet usage is high, browsers that offer a superior mobile experience may have a higher usage share.

What are some of the most popular web browsers and why?

Some of the most popular web browsers include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. These browsers are popular due to their speed, security features, user-friendly interfaces, and the availability of a wide range of extensions and add-ons. They also offer robust customer support and regular updates, which enhance their reliability and performance.

How do updates and improvements to existing browsers influence browser trends?

Updates and improvements to existing browsers can significantly influence browser trends. These updates often include new features, enhanced security, improved performance, and bug fixes, which can attract new users and retain existing ones. Therefore, browsers that regularly update and improve their offerings are likely to see an increase in their market share.

How does the performance of a browser influence its market share?

The performance of a browser, including its speed, reliability, and efficiency, can greatly influence its market share. Users generally prefer browsers that load pages quickly, do not crash or freeze, and use minimal system resources. Therefore, browsers that offer superior performance are likely to have a higher market share.

How does the availability of extensions and add-ons influence browser trends?

The availability of extensions and add-ons can significantly influence browser trends. These tools enhance the functionality of the browser, allowing users to customize their browsing experience to suit their needs. Browsers that offer a wide range of high-quality extensions and add-ons are likely to be more popular among users.

How does the user interface of a browser influence its popularity?

The user interface of a browser plays a crucial role in its popularity. A user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate can enhance the user experience, making the browser more appealing. Additionally, features such as tab management, bookmarking, and history tracking can also influence a browser’s popularity.

How does the security of a browser influence its market share?

The security of a browser is a critical factor that influences its market share. Users prefer browsers that offer robust security features, including protection against malware, phishing, and other online threats. Therefore, browsers that prioritize security are likely to have a higher market share.

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.

Browser TrendsedgefirefoxgitCSgoogle chromeieoperaRalphMsafari
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