Browser Trends March 2015: Renewed Interest in Opera?

In last month’s browser trends report, US Internet Explorer 8.0 usage appeared to return to normal. Let’s check the latest figures from StatCounter

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, January to February 2015

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

Browser January February change relative
IE (all) 19.26% 18.89% -0.37% -1.90%
IE11 10.74% 10.53% -0.21% -2.00%
IE10 1.94% 1.90% -0.04% -2.10%
IE9 2.53% 2.39% -0.14% -5.50%
IE6/7/8 4.05% 4.07% +0.02% +0.50%
Chrome 48.26% 48.83% +0.57% +1.20%
Firefox 16.96% 16.53% -0.43% -2.50%
Safari 4.45% 4.46% +0.01% +0.20%
iPad Safari 5.82% 5.75% -0.07% -1.20%
Opera 1.52% 1.60% +0.08% +5.30%
Others 3.73% 3.94% +0.21% +5.60%

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

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

Browser February 2014 February 2015 change relative
IE (all) 22.47% 18.89% -3.58% -15.90%
IE11 7.97% 10.53% +2.56% +32.10%
IE10 4.21% 1.90% -2.31% -54.90%
IE9 3.59% 2.39% -1.20% -33.40%
IE6/7/8 6.70% 4.07% -2.63% -39.30%
Chrome 43.96% 48.83% +4.87% +11.10%
Firefox 19.19% 16.53% -2.66% -13.90%
Safari 9.73% 10.21% +0.48% +4.90%
Opera 1.30% 1.60% +0.30% +23.10%
Others 3.35% 3.94% +0.59% +17.60%

(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. 5.5% of IE9 users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.)

It’s the same old story: Chrome usage grows at the expense of other browsers. There haven’t been any 1% monthly surges for a while but the browser rarely drops. February’s biggest loser was Firefox which lost almost half a point. I don’t think Mozilla is doing anything particularly wrong — it’s just difficult to entice users back once they’ve switched to Chrome.

Internet Explorer didn’t fare much better. IE6/7/8 stubbornly refused to move but a hardcore of users and corporations won’t upgrade for a few more years. Yes, years. It’s frustrating but, if your audience has a large proportion of oldIE users, it’s your job to support those browsers. Moaning won’t help. If you don’t like it, the easiest option is to switch to a job with a different user profile.

The only other browser to make gains was Opera. It’s been steadily rising for the past year although a third of users have refused to migrate from version 12. Vivaldi could offer those people an upgrade path — more about that soon.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, January to February 2015

Mobile usage dipped by a quarter of a point during February and stands at 32.98% of all web activity. It’s the second monthly drop but I still think we could achieve 50% mobile/desktop parity by the end of 2015.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser January February change relative
Chrome 29.22% 30.68% +1.46% +5.00%
iPhone 20.97% 21.35% +0.38% +1.80%
Android 19.07% 19.08% +0.01% +0.10%
UC Browser 12.07% 11.65% -0.42% -3.50%
Opera Mini/Mobile 9.55% 8.66% -0.89% -9.30%
Nokia Browser 2.84% 2.57% -0.27% -9.50%
IEMobile 2.12% 2.13% +0.01% +0.50%
Others 4.16% 3.88% -0.28% -6.70%

Chrome had a great month with a 1.5% leap. Surprisingly, the stock Android browser remains just above 19% and doesn’t appear to be affected by Chrome’s growth. Perhaps people are keeping older phones for longer?

Safari on the iPhone is solid but the majority of older browsers fell. Beyond the bottom of the chart, Blackberry has fallen to a lowly 0.99% despite holding a third of the market a few years ago. The company has promised a come-back but it’s difficult to see how they can compete against the mighty iPhone and Android platforms.


  1. I’m continually surprised at the extreme differences in browser statistics from StatCounter and NetMarketShare. Understanding the primary data collection difference of page view vs unique visitor per day, do you have any comments on this?

  2. ceeb says:

    I do indeed: browser statistics are fundamentally flawed. That said, they’re reasonable for spotting trends.

    To compare the two:

    • NetMarketShare analyzes 40,000 websites. It makes statistical adjustments to weight for users and other factors. They have corporate sponsors - although I’m sure that wouldn’t alter their findings…
    • StatCounter analyzes 3 million websites. It makes no adjustments and they are independent.

    In simple terms, NMS treats every user equally. If your Granny uses IE6 to visit one site, she’s treated the same as you using Chrome all day to visit two thousand sites. It’s one vote for IE6, one vote for Chrome.

    StatCounter looks at visits. Using the same example, Chrome would have 2,000 votes, IE6 would have 1.

    So they’re different. Personally, I think StatCounter is the simplest and most realistic example. It doesn’t attempt to weight users but that doesn’t matter - the large sample size means averages and anonomolies are reasonable.