Browser Trends October 2013: IE’s Largest Increase Ever?

By Craig Buckler
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Internet Explorer enjoyed a 1% increase during September. Was it a minor blip following everyone’s return to work or the start of a more significant trend? The latest figures from StatCounter reveal some interesting numbers…

Worldwide Browser Statistics August 2013 to September 2013

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

Browser August September change relative
IE (all) 25.51% 28.54% +3.03% +11.90%
IE10+ 11.34% 12.19% +0.85% +7.50%
IE9 5.20% 5.93% +0.73% +14.00%
IE8 8.27% 9.54% +1.27% +15.40%
IE7 0.47% 0.65% +0.18% +38.30%
IE6 0.23% 0.23% +0.00% +0.00%
Chrome 42.85% 40.88% -1.97% -4.60%
Firefox 19.26% 18.37% -0.89% -4.60%
Safari 8.57% 8.51% -0.06% -0.70%
Opera 1.14% 1.14% +0.00% +0.00%
Others 2.67% 2.56% -0.11% -4.10%

Worldwide Browser Statistics September 2012 to September 2013

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

Browser September 2012 September 2013 change relative
IE (all) 32.71% 28.54% -4.17% -12.70%
IE10+ 0.00% 12.19% +12.19% n/a
IE9 18.00% 5.93% -12.07% -67.10%
IE8 13.08% 9.54% -3.54% -27.10%
IE7 1.12% 0.65% -0.47% -42.00%
IE6 0.51% 0.23% -0.28% -54.90%
Chrome 34.29% 40.88% +6.59% +19.20%
Firefox 22.39% 18.37% -4.02% -18.00%
Safari 7.70% 8.51% +0.81% +10.50%
Opera 1.62% 1.14% -0.48% -29.60%
Others 1.29% 2.56% +1.27% +98.40%

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. 4.6% of Firefox users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

Whoa — that’s a dramatic graph! StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share: IE’s total market share increased by more than 3% in one month. I don’t recall any browser doing that before and all versions gained other than IE6 which remained static.

Bizarrely, IE8 had the highest growth of all versions at 1.27%? Have more XP users suddenly come online? I’m also surprised at IE9’s 0.73% increase given that everyone other than Vista users can migrate to the superior IE10.

Opera retains a 1.14% share but all other browsers dropped in response to IE’s gains. 4.6% of Chrome and Firefox users abandoned the browsers. Chrome’s 2% fall wiped almost four month’s of gains. Mozilla is also struggling to stall Firefox’s gradual downward trend.

Is this any cause for alarm? Of course not. We have an active browser market with healthy competition. Chrome has been surging ahead for several years but it no longer enjoys the technical superiority it once had. The latest releases from the five major vendors are great applications — and that includes Internet Explorer. While we may have an unhealthy obsession or hatred of specific browsers, the majority of users neither know or care what they’re using as long as it does the job.

We’ve reached a point where browsers have become interchangeable. I may have Firefox set as my default but barely notice dropping into IE, Chrome or Opera whenever the urge strikes. Long may it continue!

One final point of interest: look at September’s daily graph. StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share: unsurprisingly, IE usage is at its highest during the week but dips at weekends. Chrome has an almost identical mirror image.

Mobile Browser Usage

Mobile usage dropped a smidgen to 17.81% of all web activity during September following August’s highest ever 18%.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser August September change relative
Android 28.62% 28.18% -0.44% -1.50%
iPhone 21.32% 21.04% -0.28% -1.30%
Opera Mini/Mobile 16.10% 16.62% +0.52% +3.20%
UC Browser 11.15% 11.80% +0.65% +5.80%
Nokia Browser 7.04% 6.58% -0.46% -6.50%
Chrome 4.25% 4.63% +0.38% +8.90%
Blackberry 3.17% 3.10% -0.07% -2.20%
Others 8.35% 8.05% -0.30% -3.60%

While Microsoft may be able to celebrate IE’s desktop resurgence, it’s a different story in the mobile world. IEMobile usage stands at 1.71% and Windows Phone OS is unable to mount a serious challenge to break the dominance of Android, iOS and Opera. That said, who would have bet against Blackberry a few years ago?

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  • Marnie Somers

    Interesting article – just one thing “woah” is actually spelled “whoa”. I know this because I ride a horse.

    • Anonymous

      Ha ha, Marnie, you’re absolutely right. Fixed. Thank goodness there are equestrians among us.

  • Jarrod Mosen

    What the FUCK

  • Gary DeBeer

    In the US IE is still leading the browser war with 40% usage, Chrome dropped significantly over the last 2 months back to 28%.

    • Sheikh Heera

      So, does that mean that, there are still now 40% of internet users in US are not smart enough ? Very sad!

      • Anonymous

        Internet Explorer is the default browser for Windows in the US. That is not always the case worldwide, due to an antitrust suit.

        • Anonymous

          I think it’s only Europe which enforces a browser choice screen. Even then, you can ignore that or choose IE.

  • Marnie Somers

    Whoa is the first and most important word we teach to our horses – not that they know how to spell it either, but it’s a life-saver

  • Mike

    School is back in session – I wonder if most K – 12 schools are on Microsoft and the default, installed browser

  • Anonymous

    I think Windows 8 is helping Internet Explorer. There isn’t a Windows 8 version of Chrome. Sure, you can get Chrome working, but it’s not a fluid, beginner friendly process (aka my mom couldn’t do it). People see that Internet Explorer tile front and center when they start their computer.

  • vk

    here is a perspective from a third world user: I’ve been a firefox user since v3. But the latest version did not take into consideration some 3rd world users may not have enough bandwidth and speed and may wish to turn off images when it is not absolutely necessary. now my default browser is no longer firefox but IE.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks vk. Mozilla removed many of the “riskier” settings in Firefox 23, such as blocking images and JavaScript. It’s still there, but you need to delve into about:config to find it. I doubt it’s the whole reason for IE migration, but it is an interesting point. Perhaps Mozilla could have offered a single “reduce bandwidth” setting to disable everything but HTML and CSS?

  • vk

    hi Mr Buckler,
    the pervasiveness of java script used in website makes it foolish to disable java. but when one has to pay for time spent on the net, and speed is slow, I like the option to disable images. How does disabling images affect website performance if one only want text info and when important images are properly labeled with alt text?

    • Anonymous

      If you only want to view content, disabling JavaScript should be fine – especially given the ridiculous volume of JavaScript code some sites use.

      You may also find Opera’s Turbo/Off-road mode useful. It pre-parses pages to reduce bandwidth.

  • vk

    thank you Mr Buckler,
    I will check out your suggestions.
    how about the other part of my question ?
    “How does disabling images affect website performance ”
    I really don’t understand firefox’s rationale for removing option to disable images.

    • Anonymous

      Disabling images will save some bandwidth – normally more than JavaScript – but it really depends on the site in question. SitePoint is mostly fine, but an image gallery would be useless!

  • vk

    thank you Mr Buckler,
    disabling images cuts out lots of eye candy. I can reenable if image provide useful information.
    disabling java may affect performance of widgets e.g. pop up window, accordion, drop down menu …

  • Joel

    java is not a short form of javascript… they are two different things.