Browser Trends October 2012: the Calm Before the Storm?

By Craig Buckler
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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?

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  • test

    Is their any actual benefit of posting this every month’s #1 day.

    Maybe some developer happy by reading IE has goes down but it’s not make any change on requirement.

    I am sure people are still want to make site work in IE6. Is their any method to make a website without fear of those 32.71% who depend on IE.

    • It interests me — I wouldn’t bother otherwise. The viewing figures are healthy and, besides, you were still compelled to view it!

      As for your second comment regarding IE compatibility, I have a solution which could help you ensure most sites work in IE6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 without rigorous testing, development or using plug-ins such as Chrome Frame. Keep an eye on SitePoint during the next couple of weeks.

  • Seems like Webkit is winning the browser engine war. Perhaps it reaches 50% on desktop within a few months and most mobile browsers are using it.

    • Webkit is used in several browsers so, yes, it’s the most-used engine. Be wary though — implementations of Webkit differ dramatically across browsers. A page which works in Chrome won’t necessarily work in Safari desktop, iPhone, iPad or Android.

  • Is the numbers for ie7 correct? I find it curious that the worldwide and USA average for ie7 for September is 1.12%. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence.

    • The US normally has slightly higher IE usage than the worldwide figures but, yes, it’s just a coincidence.

  • Cat

    I wonder wether the ie6 stragglers are actually the designers and developers that are still testing their work on ie6?

    • Large government departments and organizations who depend on IE6-only legacy web applications. There will be a few XP users who’ve never upgraded too.

  • Simon

    The article says ‘another 9.6% of IE6 users abandoned the browser last month’ but the figures show that IE6 usage actually went up by 8.5%.

    It’s hard to believe that more people switched to IE6 than switched away from it, though.

    • Whoops — I’ve fixed it. The table was correct.

      Remember that this is web activity, i.e. more people used IE6 in September than August. That could be because users are returning to work following holidays.

      Also, the numbers are very small so it looks more dramatic than it is. If IE6 had made the same gains as Chrome, it would have been a 100%+ increase.

  • Great article, thanks Craig. As a developer I am still praying for the day when there is only one browser, or at least when they all produce the same display on the screen.

    Interesting to see that IE6 is still going strong. Surely it must be big companies and government agencies where it’s too much of an IT issue to upgrade that are still using it.

    I use Chrome, FF and IE9 and for me Chrome is loads quicker and tends to display the best with least hacks.

    • Be careful what you wish for. Your wish came true 10 years ago when IE6 dominated the market. One browser means no competition and vendor stagnation.

      I don’t really think IE6 is “going strong” — only 1 in 200 people use it. With regard to upgrading legacy applications, many large organizations have 10-20 year IT plans. In the current economy, who could blame them for extending that even further?

      The problem was ultimately caused by developers who chose to target IE6 rather than adhering with web standards. But that happens when you have a single browser…

    • It’s browser competition that drives innovation. HTML5 and CSS3 are the result of browser manufacturers trying to produce the best looking, most developer friendly browser.

      If Apple adds CSS3 gradients to Safari for example, the other browser manufacturers scramble to add it too, in the way they think will best serve the developer community (i.e. will be used, and will make their brower look good). Then they get together and discuss it and try to come up with a formal spec. The W3C is bankrolled by the stakeholders, Microsoft, Mozilla, Google, Opera, etc. It’s not some distant academic institution.

      Without browser competition we’d still be using MS filter hacks, in the same way people in the USSR were still driving Volgas.

  • that`s great statics I`m searching these for many days thanks.
    firfox percentage is declining if we compare for last month any one tell me what `s reason behind this as we know that google chrome capture the users but Mozilla firfox is not bad at all .

    • Firefox was hit with add-on compatibility issues in early v4.0+ editions. There were also performance and memory issues on Mac and Linux (less so on Windows). Mozilla fixed many of the problems but the damage has been done.

      Personally, I still prefer Firefox over Chrome but many developers have switched to that browser.

      • Android devices, Galaxy Tab for example, have Chrome as default browser so the user base is growing fast.

      • I’m back on the Firefox. Firebug still kicks ass :)

      • Len

        I use Chrome day-to-day but Firefox development tools are so sweet.

      • Greg

        I do the same thing as Len, Firebug is just so superior to all the other developer tools

  • Rainy68

    I read your article on how the market share is calculated but I’m still curious where you get your numbers? A web of network admins who report their monthly http requests? I’m not asking who your sources are, just wondering how far reaching they are. Thanks for the informative and entertaining articles. You’re one of my favorite reads.

    • StatCounter. They have a network of 3 million sites around the world which collate usage data.

  • As a developer I love the idea of a single browser, but as a consumer I certainly will hate it. But with compliance for standards index on the rise, here’s hoping that the newer versions of IE and others will bring cheer to both the sections.

    As for people using IE6 – I was struck by some of my clients having no clue that they had a choice of browsers since they ‘clicked on the “e” to access Internet’ !

  • So Chrome tops IE (all versions)? Google owns the web.

  • Mandooraj

    What do you think about this statistics?

    • All statistics are flawed but these are especially meaningless. They’re collated from one source:, which is a resource for web developers so it’s skewed by technical visitors. Chrome and Firefox therefore have a higher representation than ‘typical’ websites.

  • Chrome’s rise is partially due to the ‘Install Google Chrome’ badge on the right hand side of every browser if users are using Google as their search engine – I strongly suspect it has almost nothing to do with ‘Technical Edge’.

    On the contrary, there are an awful lot of users who still don’t know what they’re clicking on or sometimes even that they’ve clicked at all. We all know them “Oh, what happened there?”

    I really don’t consider these statistics reliable in any way!