Programming - - By Craig Buckler

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

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.