Browser Trends November 2014: IE Drops Below 20%

By Craig Buckler

Internet Explorer and Safari made modest gains in last month’s browser trends report. According to the latest figures from StatCounter, that success was short-lived…

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, September to October 2014

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

Browser September October change relative
IE (all) 20.44% 19.29% -1.15% -5.60%
IE11 9.22% 9.52% +0.30% +3.30%
IE10 2.89% 2.62% -0.27% -9.30%
IE9 3.02% 2.76% -0.26% -8.60%
IE6/7/8 5.31% 4.39% -0.92% -17.30%
Chrome 45.67% 47.71% +2.04% +4.50%
Firefox 17.43% 17.04% -0.39% -2.20%
Safari 4.64% 4.64% +0.00% +0.00%
iPad Safari 6.56% 6.35% -0.21% -3.20%
Opera 1.36% 1.29% -0.07% -5.10%
Others 3.90% 3.68% -0.22% -5.60%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, October 2013 to October 2014

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

Browser October 2013 October 2014 change relative
IE (all) 28.94% 19.29% -9.65% -33.30%
IE11 0.13% 9.52% +9.39% +7,223.10%
IE10 12.44% 2.62% -9.82% -78.90%
IE9 5.99% 2.76% -3.23% -53.90%
IE6/7/8 10.38% 4.39% -5.99% -57.70%
Chrome 40.45% 47.71% +7.26% +17.90%
Firefox 18.09% 17.04% -1.05% -5.80%
Safari 8.53% 10.99% +2.46% +28.80%
Opera 1.12% 1.29% +0.17% +15.20%
Others 2.87% 3.68% +0.81% +28.20%

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. 9.3% of IE10 users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

The big news: Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s flagship browser, has dropped below one in five users. The company’s initial complacency and sedate updates caused a 75% drop in market share since IE’s heyday in 2001. Microsoft has changed and development is moving in the right direction but, for many users and developers, it’s too little too late. IE11 is great — but it’s no better than any other browser. Why switch back?

There’s a smidgen of good news for Microsoft and anyone creating web sites; IE6/7/8 usage has dropped to less than 5%. IE8 accounts for 4.1% — similar numbers to the desktop version of Safari — so you may still require some level of support. There’s little need to go overboard; I prefer to let IE8 fall back to lesser functionality than force it to adopt slow shim-powered media queries, shadows and animations.

Firefox, Safari, and Opera failed to make gains in October which means we have one runaway winner. Following a lackluster September, Chrome fought back with a massive 2% increase and looks set to smash the 50% barrier in early 2015.

How has Google achieved this success? They’ve done nothing revolutionary. Chrome has a good rendering engine but the browser has fewer user-facing features and is not radically faster than competing browsers. It receives more promotion but that alone is not enough.

In my opinion, the main reason for Chrome’s success is: you don’t need to think about it. The browser remains stable from release to release. You rarely need to manage the installation, update plug-ins, migrate settings, clear your cache or do maintenance tasks incurred by other browsers. Chrome offers a simple experience for those who want to browse the web.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, September to October 2014

Mobile usage in October 2014 increased by 1.3% to reach 32.83% of all web activity. That’s not always typical for this time of year but mobile growth is on an unstoppable upward trend.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser September October change relative
Chrome 24.49% 27.73% +3.24% +13.20%
iPhone 23.07% 24.33% +1.26% +5.50%
Android 21.53% 20.93% -0.60% -2.80%
UC Browser 9.86% 8.74% -1.12% -11.40%
Opera Mini/Mobile 10.12% 8.72% -1.40% -13.80%
Nokia Browser 3.56% 2.87% -0.69% -19.40%
IEMobile 2.27% 2.29% +0.02% +0.90%
Others 5.10% 4.39% -0.71% -13.90%

Chrome’s 2% jump on desktop devices looks insignificant compared to the 3.24% increase on mobile. What’s more surprising is that the Android browser only dropped 0.6% during the same period.

As for the others, the iPhone version of Safari had a good month and was no doubt boosted by the release of the iPhone 6 and 6+. UC Browser and Opera both decreased but Opera’s steeper fall means they switched positions in the chart. Finally, the once-dominant Nokia browser looks set to fall behind IEMobile by the end of the year.

  • boen_robot

    “How has Google achieved this success?”

    If I remember correctly, before releasing the first version of Chrome (or was it shortly after?), Google showed interviews on street, which showed that a lot of people confuse a browser with a search engine.

    So I think for many people, “Google Chrome” is just “Google search”, and “the internet”. People love their Google search, so they fall pray to the confusion, and use Google Chrome, because in their mind, that’s “the” way to use the internet.

    Power users know better, but for them, there are other things about Chrome, most notably speed… when you don’t have any extensions (though you won’t hear that last part).
    Personally, I use IE11, and find it as good as any other browser indeed. But then also indeed – too little too late.

    • Very interesting theory. I wonder though, the same people that aren’t technical enough to know the difference between “browser” and “search engine” may likely be the same people that don’t even know you can install another browser, much less how. I think they would be the ones to stick with pre-installed IE/Safari.

      • boen_robot

        True, but this is where the marketing part mentioned above comes into play.

        Chrome is installable with a lot of other software, including Adobe Flash, and many of those same people are not wise enough to uncheck the box, and instead just click “Next”. In fact, among the last SitePoint podcast, I remember one of the hosts complained he was “tricked” into installing Chrome when updating Firefox’s Flash… Yes, a tech savvy user was tricked… so you KNOW non-techie users don’t stand a chance.

        Normally, software that’s installed like that, without user’s “conscious” knowledge and understanding just sits there on their computer, at best doing nothing, at worst being malware. With a name like “Google Chrome” though, it’s easy for users to think this is just a shortcut to Google – the place they were going to anyway. They click, and Google indeed opens, so they end up actually using it.

        Also (and I realized that after your comment, just now), Chrome has what for many is a killer feature – it can detect whether a web page is in a “foreign” language (according to your language preferences), and offer to translate the page “inline”. No need to open up Google Translate, pass the URL, and open it with a header on top of the page.

        Sure, there’s a Firefox add-on for that, but non-techies don’t care enough to install those, and they don’t even know it’s POSSIBLE, and thus can’t even ask a friend to do it.

        • It’s also worth noting that f you’re using an older browser, such as IE8, and visit Google, you get a button saying “Install Google Chrome”.

          If you combine the facts that Google is the most visited site globally (http://www.alexa.com/topsites), Windows is the most widely used OS group, and that a lot of Windows users aren’t necessarily tech savvy, and Chrome’s success comes down not to the fact it’s a good, the best or the most stable browser, but because more people are told about it through their general browsing activity and download it because of that. Once installed, many will assume it is the internet in the same way that many used to think that Internet Explorer was the internet.

    • LouisLazaris

      It was actually shortly after. First version of Chrome was released on Dec. 11, 2008 (I have a browser history post here, that needs updating) and the video came out some time in 2009 (see this Mashable post).

    • Craig Buckler

      Google certainly thrust Chrome into the spotlight (despite claims that they weren’t bothered by market share). However, even novices would have complained if Chrome caused problems.

      In my experience, most developers also use Chrome as their primary browser. They chose to do so and were not tricked into it. I’ve been a Firefox user for more than 12 years but, following recent instabilities and extension compatibilities, I’ve been considering a switch. No browser is perfect but perhaps Chrome is less imperfect than the rest?

  • Wolf_22

    I still use Firefox a lot (31 right now)… Wish it could get it’s act together. Used to be the best browser.

  • zubuke

    I will never get people”willingly” share their metrics with Google using Chrome. But I agree, Chrome perfectly fits to people googling site they want to get by “www.xyz.com”

  • RobertSF

    Unfortunately, Chrome has turned into a memory hog and worse, it frequently fails inexplicably to load sites. The site is alive and up, and loads perfectly under IE or other, but Chrome says the website can’t be found. There is no setting that fixes this either. The only thing you can do is wait for Chrome to get over its tantrum, which can last from a minute to ten.

    So despite the death of IE, we’re still in the situation the the most popular browser sucks.

  • Joseph

    Willing to bet IE’s percentage would dip to non-existent if all corporation, education and government IT departments woke up, got out of Microsoft’s bed and allowed their users to install the browser they prefer to use.

  • Dave

    One of my sites had around 50% IE6 usage last month! Not surprisingly, the top country was China.

  • Rose Krueger

    Google is horrible. I will stick with IE and FF. Go to your task manager and watch your resources go down and dozen’s of threads open up. I also hear my CPU fans kick in whenever I’m in Chrome, I do not get that with FF or IE. Sorry so NOT impressed with Chrome, well basically with any of Google tools, until they get a good UI/UX design – I feel like I’m on Windows 95

  • Christophe Thomas

    Chrome has a lot of feature power users were looking for (generating random password, sync bokmarks, is simple to use and has Google as a default search engine … for me I simlply get more stuff done using Chrome in the same time – I guess many people using browsers for work have made a similar experience.

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