Browser Trends June 2013: Chrome Outnumbers Firefox 2 to 1

By Craig Buckler

In last month’s analysis, it was evident Google and Microsoft have the biggest browser battle. Unfortunately, the latest figures according to StatCounter highlight a casualty of the war…

Worldwide Browser Statistics April 2013 to May 2013

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

Browser April May change relative
IE (all) 29.69% 27.71% -1.98% -6.70%
IE10 6.19% 8.69% +2.50% +40.40%
IE 9 13.35% 9.61% -3.74% -28.00%
IE8 9.30% 8.63% -0.67% -7.20%
IE7 0.59% 0.54% -0.05% -8.50%
IE6 0.26% 0.24% -0.02% -7.70%
Chrome 39.21% 41.44% +2.23% +5.70%
Firefox 20.05% 19.75% -0.30% -1.50%
Safari 7.99% 7.94% -0.05% -0.60%
Opera 1.00% 1.00% +0.00% +0.00%
Others 2.06% 2.16% +0.10% +4.90%

Worldwide Browser Statistics May 2012 to May 2013

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

Browser May 2012 May 2013 change relative
IE (all) 32.13% 27.71% -4.42% -13.80%
IE10 0.00% 8.69% +8.69% n/a
IE 9 15.59% 9.61% -5.98% -38.40%
IE8 14.35% 8.63% -5.72% -39.90%
IE7 1.53% 0.54% -0.99% -64.70%
IE6 0.66% 0.24% -0.42% -63.60%
Chrome 32.51% 41.44% +8.93% +27.50%
Firefox 25.57% 19.75% -5.82% -22.80%
Safari 7.08% 7.94% +0.86% +12.10%
Opera 1.78% 1.00% -0.78% -43.80%
Others 0.93% 2.16% +1.23% +132.30%

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 8.5% of IE7 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

Firefox has dropped below 20%. StatCounter’s records only go back to 2008 but I guess 2005 was the last time Mozilla’s browser was at that level. Firefox 1.0 was released in November 2004 and instantly received positive press in a world dominated by IE6. It remains a great browser and 20% is a healthy share, but Mozilla will never have the commercial clout of Google and Microsoft. However, Firefox is the only true open-source browser — Mozilla has no shareholders or profit targets. There’s little reason to doubt Firefox’s long-term future even though Mozilla has stopped development on related projects such as Camino (a Gecko browser for OSX which has been superseded by Firefox) and Thunderbird (the Gecko-based email and news client).

I’m not sure how Chrome managed to jump another 2.23%, but it’s incredible for a browser which now holds more that 40% of the market. In simplistic terms, Chrome is used by twice as many users as Firefox. I’m not wholly convinced that’s the case, especially since version 27 introduced further pre-rendering technology to download pages in the background. This can affect the statistics; StatCounter has fixed similar skewing issues in the past so perhaps we’ll see a drop next month.

The bulk of Chrome’s increase came at the expense of Internet Explorer which dropped almost 2%. IE10 continues to make impressive gains, but mainly because users are migrating from previous versions. If the rumors are true, IE11 will arrive with Windows 8.1 later this month and give Google a little more competition.

As for the others, neither Safari or Opera moved. I double-checked Opera — it’s still at exactly 1%. The mobile Blink-based editions are gradually being released so it shouldn’t be long until the desktop version arrives.

Mobile Browser Usage

Mobile usage increase slightly to 14.62% of all web activity in May 2013 — this normally happens when the northern hemisphere approaches summer.

The primary mobile browsing applications:

  1. Android — 30.46% (down 0.50%)
  2. iPhone — 23.49% (down 0.45%)
  3. Opera Mini/Mobile – 15.45% (up 0.10%)
  4. UC Browser — 9.09% (up 0.35%)
  5. Nokia browser — 7.12% (up 0.09%)

The mathematicians among you will notice that losses for the Android and iPhone browsers total 1% whereas Opera, UC and Nokia’s gains total 0.5%. The reason: another browser is rapidly rising up the lower end of the chart. Chrome for mobile currently holds 2.73% and should overtake Blackberry this month. If it grows as quickly as its desktop cousin, it’ll shunt Nokia out of the top five before the end of the year.

  • Pleased to see IE8 continuing to fall. It’s the last of the real pain-in-the-butt browsers for most of what I do. With IE9 falling at a similar rate, it can’t be too long before we’re dealing mainly with nice, modern browsers.

    Of course, we can’t drop them yet, and maybe not for another year, but it’s still cheering.

    • IE8 is certainly the last of the oldIEs although, to be honest, it rarely gives me many problems. But I don’t strive for pixel perfection or attempt to make it do stuff it doesn’t support (canvas, SVG etc). That said, I’ll still cheer once it’s finally gone.

      • Oh, it doesn’t generally cause problems that I can’t overcome. It’s just that, without it, I’d be able to manage the same things with less convoluted code. CSS3 selectors are a particular hang-up.

  • Alan

    It is good to see that Microsoft is finally reaping the seeds of chaos it sowed. They unleashed version after version on the public that caused dreadful chaos. Their total disregard of the effect they were having on the public and developers in particular was breathtaking. Their lack of adherence must have cost the IT industry and its customers billions of dollars.

    • Perhaps that’s a little harsh! IE6 was a great browser when it appeared in 2001. It’s just a shame we needed to support it a decade later. IE7 was awful, but at least it got the IE team back together. IE8 is mostly fine except for HTML5 support. IE9 was a massive step forward and IE10 is as good as most other browsers.

      What effect did it have on the public? None — they didn’t even notice. Yes, it was awkward for developers, but those who complained the most tended to be the ones who tested IE far too late in the development cycle.

      My main criticism is that it takes too long between versions but, assuming IE11 is imminent, Microsoft might just crack that problem.

      • Alan

        I suppose it was harsh, but I just can’t expunge all the late nights we had as a project team trying to get all the features working in all browsers, we wished we could have just forgotten about IE but the problem was its market share – and therein lies the cause I believe. My feeling is that it is likely the felt they did not have to conform due to their size – that is they could set the standards.

        Regarding the comment on the public – you are right I suppose – the public were often not aware it was a browser problem, they thought it was a developer issue when a page did not render properly!.

    • Stevie D

      I think the problem was that Microsoft didn’t “unleash version after version” … they unleased one version and left it at that. A couple of service packs was all we had for 5 years until IE7 turned up. Had they been releasing new versions more frequently, we wouldn’t have had anywhere near as many problems.

  • Alan

    At the risk of labourning the point, I came across this statement this morning.

    It looks like Microsoft “keeps on giving”

    • Hmm, sorry — I don’t believe those claims. How can any browser’s rendering engine cause a CMS to show the wrong page? Their solution is to switch to compatibility mode so it sounds like a bug in their system — possibly caused by using proprietary oldIE code rather than standards.

      It’s always easier to shunt the blame on to the browser vendor than fix code.

  • Craig

    I’m just curious as to why you list IE before Chrome. In all cases Chrome has more popularity than IE. Is it a copy/paste oversight? Is it to give a clearer view of the problematic IE?

    • There’s little thought or reason behind it, Craig. I started creating these tables when IE still ruled supreme and it’s stayed that way. Also, it might be a little confusing if the total IE row appeared below Chrome rather than at the top.

  • Tim

    I’ve stopped using windows so IE is not an option except in virtual machines, but even if IE11 is as good as Chrome, would it have all the great extensions?

    And past transgressions is certainly worth bearing in mind: after Microsoft killed Netscape, it released IE6 and forgot about the internet (someone somewhere high in MS put a big tick in a box). It will take a lot to forgive that, although the growth of open source infrastructure as they only possible response to Microsoft killing your sales has had the last laugh.

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