By Craig Buckler

Browser Trends, May 2011: Explosive Growth for Firefox 4.0 and IE9 but Chrome’s Closing In

By Craig Buckler

My previous browser trends report provided an early indication of IE9 and Firefox 4.0 uptake. Both browsers have now been available for more than a month so let’s analyze the latest StatCounter statistics

Browser March April change relative
IE 9.0 0.75% 2.32% +1.57% +209.30%
IE 8.0 30.20% 30.24% +0.04% +0.10%
IE 7.0 9.78% 7.82% -1.96% -20.00%
IE 6.0 4.37% 4.14% -0.23% -5.30%
Firefox 4.0 2.34% 7.59% +5.25% +224.40%
Firefox 3.5+ 26.33% 20.90% -5.43% -20.60%
Firefox 3.1- 1.31% 1.19% -0.12% -9.20%
Chrome 17.37% 18.27% +0.90% +5.20%
Safari 5.02% 5.04% +0.02% +0.40%
Opera 1.98% 1.90% -0.08% -4.00%
Others 1.30% 2.91% +1.61% +123.80%
IE (all) 45.10% 44.52% -0.58% -1.30%
Firefox (all) 29.98% 29.68% -0.30% -1.00%

This table shows market share estimates. The ‘change’ column shows the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. 20% of IE7 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

The most impressive figures are IE9 with 2.32% and Firefox with 7.59% of the market. Both browsers have enjoyed an increase of more than 200% in one month. However, it’s easier to double your market when your starting point is close to zero.

Firefox 4.0 adoption grew by almost the same amount that Firefox 3.x dropped. There are few reasons why users shouldn’t upgrade so I expect the older editions to be extinct within 6 months. It might be sooner if Mozilla’s rapid update system remains on schedule.

IE usage patterns are a little more complex. The number of IE6/7 to IE8 upgrades appears to be similar to the number of IE8 to IE9 upgrades. Overall, it results in no significant change for IE8. I’m not convinced that’s the case, but at least IE7 usage is dropping rapidly. Good news.

The market share for Opera and Safari has barely changed, although “Other” browsers experienced significant growth? There are no clues in the underlying data so this could be a statistical anomaly; perhaps a monthly blip or because StatCounter recently updated their browser/version detection list.

The bad news for Microsoft and Mozilla is that Chrome continues to eat into their market share. Google’s browser consistently gains almost 1% every month with one third of those users migrating from Firefox and two thirds from IE. There’s no indication that growth has plateaued and Chrome users are remaining faithful to the application.

A 3-way tie at the top of the browser chart seems increasingly likely.

  • hyderali

    Chrome will definitely surpassed all the other browsers within a few years. Its so fast, smooth & less crashing browsers.

    • Patrick Samphire

      I’m afraid I don’t agree. Chrome is now not significantly faster than its competitors, and I find it crashes more often. Really, the difference in performance between latest versions of the main browsers has reduced a lot recently, and any are a good browsing experience.

    • RapidMod

      Safari is a “FAST” browser and I actually kinda like it, the platform just doesn’t have the features or windows support.

  • Steve

    I hate Internet Explorer. I wish Microsoft would just get out of the browser game all together.

    • awasson

      Oh, I absolutely agree with you Steve! I so hate IE.

      I switched to FF a long time ago (even before it was named Firefox) but I didn’t mind IE, it just wasn’t my browser of preference. Now however when we have so many browser that work so much better IE (any flavor) it’s just a pain. I was hoping IE9 was going to be better and it is better than 8 but it’s no Chrome or FF 4.

  • Brandon

    Chrome is so fast compared to the others that i can only think people value aesthetics and bloat over performance and simpleness.

    • I agree that Chrome’s fast, but the other browsers have caught up. Opera is just as quick, Firefox isn’t far behind, and IE9 can be faster.

      • jimbo

        I moved from IE to FF a few years back, like so many others who found IE seriously lacking. However, I’ve recently been using 64-bit IE9 on a 64-bit platform and it’s far and away quicker than Opera, FF and Chrome. Well, it should be as 64-bit applications are faster than a 32-bit equivalent. Much to my chagrin I find myself using IE9 now and again because I like the speed.

      • You’ll probably find that the 32-bit version is faster — even on a 64-bit platform. The 64-bit edition has a slower JavaScript engine.

  • Senina

    I prefer IE9 and IE based browsers like Avant browser ,maxthon

  • rexmanuel

    I wish Microsoft would just get out of the browser game all together.

  • @Steve and rexmanuel
    I understand your concerns but I think it’s healthy to have competition in the browser market. Microsoft has seen the light and IE9 is a good modern browser. It’s still behind the others in many respects, but MS is heading in the right direction.

    Without Microsoft, Google and/or Apple would become considerably more powerful. Would that be preferable?

    • Daquan Wright

      That depends on whether or not MS keeps making good browsers. I’ll hold my peace, but don’t get me started on the nightmares I’ve dealt with in the past regarding their browsers.

      If IE wasn’t here, the world would keep turning, I assure you. It doesn’t even bother me that MS makes a browser, it’s the fact that it causes me headaches and heartaches. xD

  • Kevin McQuaid

    I love Chrome but there are still far too many sites that Chrome fail on for my liking, particularly banking sites. Come on developers – get your sites up to date please!

    I also like IE9 – fast and stable – then again I have never really had many problems with using IE.

  • y3max

    I like IE9 very much!

  • Louis Simoneau

    What’s interesting to me in these numbers is the big jump in “Others” … do you think that’s all mobile?

    • Perhaps. StatCounter updated their browser list between March and April so it’s possible that, say, IE Mobile was recorded as IE but is now detected correctly. But I couldn’t spot any obvious large jumps for specific browsers. I’ll look again in a month or two.

  • Munir Lodin

    Chrome is my browser of choice since its very first version.

  • Curt Tweedle

    I generally use Chrome overall. But I do run the others every day or so.
    But what I have come to realize is what does it matter how a particular browser is doing? People have their preference and are not going to switch because of what others are doing or growth rate. Especially, average users who will never read nor be interested in browser stats. Especially since so many

    So that really only leaves designers and developers to be interested. But it isn’t really the browser shares that concern us, but the share and market growth of specific technologies (HTML5 support, CSS3 features supported, rendering engine and so on). This is what matters.

    Basically, stats that answer the uptake and use of a particular level of standards. (ie overall percentages and deltas of HTML5 vs HTML 4 and CSS3 vs CSS2, webkit vs Trident vs Gecko (and their various versions).

  • Exoldier

    I’m afraid that this stats percentage rise in iE9 users is just the people who gave it a last chance, people like me who decided to see if ie9 is any better than its previous versions…well it might be, but no that good enough for me to use it instead of firefox. I gave it a try and now I’m back on ff, i wonder what % of change I’ll make the next month :p

  • raj

    I love Chrome very much.It looks simple and good.It helps good for developers.

  • quangtuyen88

    I like google chorme. But some communities are already familiar with firefox. I find google-friendly interface and fast page loading speed than firefox: D

  • Tsega

    I just can’t live without Firefox, I know it is not as fast as Chrome but it is still my choice because of its independent origins and its wealth of add-ons that’s no match for any of the browsers mentioned.

  • Sphamandla

    Chrome all the way and IE9 is very good considering IE8 and lower.

  • Daquan Wright

    Poor Opera, it just lacks in marketing. It is a splendid browser though and it’s also lightning fast, as well as light weight.

    I use both chrome and firefox for development purposes and so far, IE9 is rendering my sites pretty well (thank God!). lol

    I doubt Chrome will over take Firefox+IE though. Firefox’s branding and presence is just very solid, but IE is there by default so it will always play a big part in the browser war. It’s possible Chrome might overtake Firefox though, but only over a few years.

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