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Browser Trends October 2012: the Calm Before the Storm?

By Craig Buckler



Last month I asked whether Chrome’s growth had started to plateau following its first ever loss. Let’s look at the latest browser market statistics according to StatCounter

Worldwide Browser Statistics August 2012 to September 2012

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

Browser August September change relative
IE (all) 32.85% 32.71% -0.14% -0.40%
IE 9.0+ 17.57% 18.00% +0.43% +2.40%
IE 8.0 13.65% 13.08% -0.57% -4.20%
IE 7.0 1.16% 1.12% -0.04% -3.40%
IE 6.0 0.47% 0.51% +0.04% +8.50%
Firefox 22.84% 22.39% -0.45% -2.00%
Chrome 33.65% 34.29% +0.64% +1.90%
Safari 7.41% 7.70% +0.29% +3.90%
Opera 1.64% 1.62% -0.02% -1.20%
Others 1.61% 1.29% -0.32% -19.90%

Worldwide Browser Statistics September 2011 to September 2012

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

Browser September 2011 September 2012 change relative
IE (all) 42.44% 32.71% -9.73% -22.90%
IE 9.0+ 7.27% 18.00% +10.73% +147.60%
IE 8.0 26.30% 13.08% -13.22% -50.30%
IE 7.0 5.45% 1.12% -4.33% -79.40%
IE 6.0 3.42% 0.51% -2.91% -85.10%
Firefox 27.96% 22.39% -5.57% -19.90%
Chrome 22.17% 34.29% +12.12% +54.70%
Safari 5.15% 7.70% +2.55% +49.50%
Opera 1.66% 1.62% -0.04% -2.40%
Others 0.62% 1.29% +0.67% +108.10%

The table shows market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column shows the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. another 3.4% of IE7 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

Chrome bounced back in September. Not to its normal 1% monthly increase, but 0.64% is respectable and far better than any competitor. However, the market has been remarkably stable this month — I suspect Chrome is reaching saturation point.

Firefox was the biggest loser and one in five Firefox users have switched to another browser in the past twelve months. While that’s not good for Mozilla, it illustrates how quickly people are prepared to dump an application when it fails them. Browser vendors beware!

Safari and Opera wobbled, but made no significant movement either way. Interestingly, the “other browsers” had a sizable drop; most people use an application from the top-five vendors and it’ll be tough for anyone to crash that party.

Which leaves us with Internet Explorer. Microsoft’s browser dropped a little during September although IE6 made a small gain. It’s nothing to worry about — when the figures are so small, minor fluctuations are amplified.

On October 26, IE10 will be launched alongside Windows 8 with the usual blaze of publicity. While it’s unlikely to impact October’s browser market, there’s a chance it’ll begin to stabilize or reverse IE’s downward trend. Microsoft are working hard to build a better browser, but IE10 will need to be stunning before it regains developer trust. Watch out for a full review on SitePoint.

Mobile Browser Usage

September’s mobile usage rose to 12.03% of all web activity.

The primary mobile browsing applications are:

  1. Android — 25.10% (up 0.70%)
  2. iPhone — 20.62% (down 0.19%)
  3. Opera Mini/Mobile – 19.27% (down 0.07%)
  4. Nokia browser — 10.61% (up 0.43%)
  5. UC Browser — 7.35% (down 0.44%)

Another good month for Android but, overall, the mobile chart has remained surprisingly static. Perhaps Amazon’s Silk browser in the new Kindles can be a disruptive influence?

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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