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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?

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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