Browser Trends June 2015: The Battle for Second Place

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In last month’s browser chart, Chrome was 0.03% away from the 50% milestone. Has it reached one in two users? Let’s see what StatCounter reveals

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, April to May 2015

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

Browser April May change relative
IE (all) 18.25% 18.28% +0.03% +0.20%
IE11 10.76% 10.83% +0.07% +0.70%
IE10 1.81% 1.87% +0.06% +3.30%
IE9 2.26% 2.18% -0.08% -3.50%
IE6/7/8 3.42% 3.40% -0.02% -0.60%
Chrome 49.97% 49.36% -0.61% -1.20%
Firefox 16.77% 16.39% -0.38% -2.30%
Safari 4.77% 5.76% +0.99% +20.80%
iPad Safari 5.09% 5.06% -0.03% -0.60%
Opera 1.61% 1.62% +0.01% +0.60%
Others 3.54% 3.53% -0.01% -0.30%

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

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

Browser May 2014 May 2015 change relative
IE (all) 20.76% 18.28% -2.48% -11.90%
IE11 8.47% 10.83% +2.36% +27.90%
IE10 3.30% 1.87% -1.43% -43.30%
IE9 3.23% 2.18% -1.05% -32.50%
IE6/7/8 5.76% 3.40% -2.36% -41.00%
Chrome 45.72% 49.36% +3.64% +8.00%
Firefox 18.71% 16.39% -2.32% -12.40%
Safari 10.00% 10.82% +0.82% +8.20%
Opera 1.30% 1.62% +0.32% +24.60%
Others 3.51% 3.53% +0.02% +0.60%

(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. 3.5% of IE9 users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

So near, yet so far. Chrome slipped and couldn’t hurdle the 50% barrier. It remains the most used browser by far, but the battle for second place is becoming more interesting.

The gap between Internet Explorer and Firefox has hovered around 1-2% for most of 2015. IE had a reasonable month and stayed mostly static, but it’s a long way from its 95% market share in 2001. Even five years ago it had more than 50% usage. The browser is in the final stages of life and will shortly be superseded by Microsoft Edge. However, many still depend on IE. It’s Windows’ default browser and corporations often rely on it for internal applications.

Firefox was the browser which released IE’s stranglehold. It peaked at one third of users back in 2010, but has been slowly dropping ever since. Firefox has a reputation as an application for developers and power users. While it can be used by anyone, Chrome offers an easier experience, and Mozilla will never have Google’s commercial clout. May was a tough month for Firefox, and it slipped further behind IE—though I suspect the long-term forecast is better.

Both browsers are important for the industry:

  1. Firefox is the only mainstream, open-source browser. There are no company shareholders and it is not swayed by commercial pressures. HTML5 features are added if they’re useful, rather than because a particular device or application needs it.
  2. Technically, IE lingers behind competitors, but Microsoft provides a stable platform for enterprise applications. Few companies go so far to maintain backward-compatibility.

Above all, Firefox and IE are competition for Chrome, and HTML5 has thrived. It can make development more challenging, but the alternative is stagnation, complacency and an all-dominating Google.

The biggest gain in May was made by Safari which, bizarrely, jumped almost 1%. Impressive, but it might be a minor re-adjustment following a few lackluster months.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that both IE9 (2.18%) and IE10 (1.87%) usage has fallen behind IE8 (3.16%).

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, April to May 2015

Mobile usage grew by almost 1.5% to reach 34.8% of all web activity.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser April May change relative
Chrome 32.30% 33.17% +0.87% +2.70%
iPhone 19.49% 18.87% -0.62% -3.20%
Android 17.96% 17.17% -0.79% -4.40%
UC Browser 13.69% 14.53% +0.84% +6.10%
Opera Mini/Mobile 9.09% 9.92% +0.83% +9.10%
IEMobile 2.20% 2.15% -0.05% -2.30%
Nokia Browser 2.12% 1.21% -0.91% -42.90%
Others 3.15% 2.98% -0.17% -5.40%

Chrome’s growth is starting to mirror that of its desktop cousin, and its lead looks unassailable.

UC Browser and Opera Mini/Mobile made similar gains. Part of the reason could be that mobile and tablet usage has reached parity with desktop PCs in Asia.

If you’re concerned about the 5% of users still using old versions of IE, or the 30% of mobile users adopting simpler browsers, perhaps it’s time to embrace progressive enhancement and watch your support troubles disappear!