Browser Trends November 2012: Entering Equilibrium?

By Craig Buckler
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Another month is over. September was quiet and I wondered whether IE10 could be a disruptive influence. Microsoft’s decision to delay the browser on Windows 7 now makes that unlikely, so let’s look at the latest browser market statistics according to StatCounter

Worldwide Browser Statistics September 2012 to October 2012

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

Browser September October change relative
IE (all) 32.71% 32.08% -0.63% -1.90%
IE 9.0+ 18.00% 17.95% -0.05% -0.30%
IE 8.0 13.08% 12.66% -0.42% -3.20%
IE 7.0 1.12% 0.98% -0.14% -12.50%
IE 6.0 0.51% 0.49% -0.02% -3.90%
Firefox 22.39% 22.32% -0.07% -0.30%
Chrome 34.29% 34.83% +0.54% +1.60%
Safari 7.70% 7.81% +0.11% +1.40%
Opera 1.62% 1.63% +0.01% +0.60%
Others 1.29% 1.33% +0.04% +3.10%

Worldwide Browser Statistics October 2011 to October 2012

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past 12 months:

Browser October 2011 October 2012 change relative
IE (all) 40.18% 32.08% -8.10% -20.20%
IE 9.0+ 9.59% 17.95% +8.36% +87.20%
IE 8.0 23.83% 12.66% -11.17% -46.90%
IE 7.0 4.29% 0.98% -3.31% -77.20%
IE 6.0 2.47% 0.49% -1.98% -80.20%
Firefox 26.39% 22.32% -4.07% -15.40%
Chrome 25.05% 34.83% +9.78% +39.00%
Safari 5.93% 7.81% +1.88% +31.70%
Opera 1.80% 1.63% -0.17% -9.40%
Others 0.65% 1.33% +0.68% +104.60%

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. another 12.50% 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 remarkable observation is how unremarkable the browser movements have been. Chrome made further gains, but its period of 1% monthly growth appears to have ended. IE8 experienced the largest drop, but it’s also great to see IE7 fall below 1% for the first time. Unsurprisingly, IE10 (review coming soon) barely makes an impact with a 0.08% market share — next month should give us a better indication of Windows 8 adoption.

Firefox lost a few users, Safari made a small improvement and Opera barely changed.

We have reached a point of web stability. IE10, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera are all capable browsers; there is little to choose between them. The older versions of IE can be problematical but, without them, we’d have nothing to moan about! Fortunately, their days are numbered.

The browser market is healthy. No one vendor has significant control and it’s increasingly difficult for any company to wrestle users from their favorite application. I hope it remains that way.

Mobile Browser Usage

October’s mobile usage increased slightly to 12.3% of all web activity.

The primary mobile browsing applications:

  1. Android — 25.84% (up 0.74%)
  2. iPhone — 20.87% (up 0.25%)
  3. Opera Mini/Mobile – 18.92% (down 0.35%)
  4. Nokia browser — 10.20% (down 0.41%)
  5. UC Browser — 7.65% (up 0.3%)

Android continues to make good gains, but the top five remains as rigid as the desktop browsers. I suspect this could change as we approach the end of the year and people start considering gift ideas. A slew of new tablet devices could make an interesting couple of months.

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  • I wonder if Safari in several years’ time may overtake Firefox. Firefox’s losing popularity and Apple products are growing. I don’t use Safari myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens after some time.

    • Safari is essentially an Apple-only browser now, so it will be limited by the company’s OS market share (approximately 10% of desktops, 20% of smartphones, and a big chuck of tablets).

      At some point, however, Apple could come up against regulators. The only reason Apple can provide their own browser at the expense of all others is because they have a relatively small share. But the success of iPads could result in Safari having an unfair advantage in the tablet market. Microsoft are already being investigated for less-stringent restrictions in Windows RT – and their devices have a fraction of Apple’s sales.

  • Firefox is still the best browser and millions of plugins and addons help to surf better, I don’t understand why someone switch to another browser.

    • Asaf

      Have you every used chrome?

      I switched from FF to chrome about two years ago and have never fired up FF again since.

      • Nick

        I tried Chrome extensively and still think Firefox is the better everyday browser. If you want a toy browser where you close everything or almost everything and start from a clean slate, then Chrome is perfect. But if not, Chrome is missing a number of very useful features or add-ons:
        * Tab mix plus, so that you can have multiple rows of tabs, instead of one row that gets smaller and smaller tabs, until they are unreadable.
        * Lazy loading of tabs, which Chrome devs have essentially refused to add:

        Basically, Chrome does not scale as your number of tabs increases. I have hundreds of tabs open in Firefox now, and it works great, because it scales! And it is exceedingly odd that Chrome does not scale, coming from a company whose core advantages have been scalability and algorithms, but that doesn’t stop it being true. The people who say “but why do you need that many tabs?” are the same ones who presumably said “why do you need that many servers?”; people either understand scalablility, or they say “but why do you need that?” when they simply don’t get it.

      • I used Chrome several month during the time the firefox browser became slower and slower. But the last versions brought back speed and I was happy to get back a convenient browser.

  • Kris

    I want to know in which context this information is useful ?

    Suppose if someone really want their site in IE then they search for someone who can do it. it’s another matter if person refuse to made it for Ie6 and just give IE7 or IE8 support.

    IF someone say First “Hey, I don’t care about Ie so you can use anything that work in chrome and firefox”.

  • Firefox have increasingly become slow and bloated. Happy to see IE7 following IE6 into extinction. Chrome is certainly the best browser at the moment, I still find my self alternating IE9/IE10 with Chrome though – find that some sites don’t seem to happy with either one or the other. Also, quite sad to see Apple give up on Safari for Windows – not that Safari is a great browser, but would have been nice to see MS and Apple step up the battle….