Browser Trends November 2014: IE Drops Below 20%

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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.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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