Browser Trends June 2015: The Battle for Second Place

By Craig Buckler

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!

  • Amanda

    All of the charts say May to May

    • Ralph Mason

      Whoops! Thanks Amanda!

    • Craig Buckler

      Sorry! I think my search and replace skills may need refining…

  • Wow Nokia browser still ahead of IE in mobile suggests those charts are flawed. Windows Phones as of now enjoys greater installed base than Nokia Symbian and Nokia browser has been in the process of being phased out for Opera Mobile for long time now.

    • Craig Buckler

      Why are your assumptions more accurate that StatCounter’s statistics?

      Remember, these are global figures. There are a considerable number of feature phones in developing countries. The advantages: they’re cheaper and batteries last considerably longer than 24 hours without a recharge.

      • I am from India so I know the use age pattern here. Nokia browser has long been out of date, nobody uses it now, believe me. Many used it till 2 years back now most have turned to budget Androids or use Opera Mini(official browser in Nokia feature phones today) and UC browser. Others have switched to Lumia devices (vast majority of WP users are old Nokia Symbian users).

        • Craig Buckler

          The Nokia browser has just over 1% usage and is half that of IE. Is that unrealistic given it was one of the only mobile browsers a few years ago?

          • Its still unrealistic considering IE Mobile browser is just with 2% share, despite replacing the Nokia browsers in Nokia’s smartphone

          • Craig Buckler

            IEMobile is not a replacement for the Nokia browser. They run on different devices – you can’t upgrade.

            Nokia was failing when Microsoft bought the company; they hadn’t kept up with development and had fallen behind Android and iOS. However, Symbian is still available on many older and some cheap new phones. It runs the Nokia browser – not IE.

            IEMobile runs on Windows Phone. Most are Nokia-branded but have nothing to do with Symbian or the Nokia browser. The Windows platform is good, but suffers from a being late to market, a relative lack of software and strong competition from cheaper Androids or more powerful iOS/Android devices.

            You said yourself most have switched to Android. How many people do you know with a Windows phone? The figures seem reasonable to me.

          • Yes Symbian despite being dead for 2 years is still available in many older devices (nothing newer than Nokia 808 however) but the installed capacity of WPs have exceeded Symbian for sometime now and even on the older Nokia Symbian devices Nokia browser is no longer the main browser its opera mini. I know this cause I used an E series device till less than 2 years ago.
            Yes Nokia was not in a good shape when MS acquired it but the sales has increased ever since the acquisition and many of my friends sport lumias.
            So IE Mobile having just 2% market share when another long dead browser disowned by its own company and an alien in its own currently dead platform still sport 1+% seems unreal.

  • ChierDuChien

    The ignorant, stinky unwashed masses always love a dictatorial leader..
    Google crams dookee down their throats and they greedily lap it up..

    Any posters like the forced sidebars ?

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