Browser Trends October 2015: Sustained Safari Slips

By Craig Buckler

Chrome continued its meteoric growth mostly at IE’s expense in September’s browser trends. Is there better news for Microsoft in October’s StatCounter statistics? Er, no …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, August to September 2015

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

Browser August September change relative
IE (all) 15.99% 15.71% -0.28% -1.80%
IE11 9.94% 9.88% -0.06% -0.60%
IE10 1.66% 1.63% -0.03% -1.80%
IE9 1.83% 1.75% -0.08% -4.40%
IE6/7/8 2.56% 2.45% -0.11% -4.30%
Edge 0.74% 0.96% +0.22% +29.70%
Chrome 52.97% 53.24% +0.27% +0.50%
Firefox 15.60% 15.87% +0.27% +1.70%
Safari 3.77% 3.89% +0.12% +3.20%
iPad Safari 5.53% 5.25% -0.28% -5.10%
Opera 1.79% 1.76% -0.03% -1.70%
Others 3.61% 3.32% -0.29% -8.00%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, September 2014 to September 2015

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

Browser September 2014 September 2015 change relative
IE (all) 20.44% 15.71% -4.73% -23.10%
IE11 9.22% 9.88% +0.66% +7.20%
IE10 2.89% 1.63% -1.26% -43.60%
IE9 3.02% 1.75% -1.27% -42.10%
IE6/7/8 5.31% 2.45% -2.86% -53.90%
Chrome 45.67% 53.24% +7.57% +16.60%
Firefox 17.43% 15.87% -1.56% -9.00%
Safari 11.20% 9.14% -2.06% -18.40%
Opera 1.36% 1.76% +0.40% +29.40%
Others 3.90% 4.28% +0.38% +9.70%

(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. 5.1% of iPad Safari users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats, so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

Chrome enjoyed another good month and is rapidly approaching levels not seen since the early years of the millennium during IE’s monopolistic reign. Chrome remains a good browser, although I’ve found it more problematic recently. It has a glutinous appetite for memory, and I’ve experienced several ten-minute start-up times (yes, ten minutes — not seconds). If you want the Blink rendering engine and developer tools without the cruft, try Opera. It’s never let me down. Alternatively, Vivaldi offers a great experience for Opera 12 fans, although it’s still a preview release.

In other news, Firefox has finally overtaken Internet Explorer after thirteen years of trying! Kind of. The combined versions of Firefox are 0.16% above the combined versions of IE but, once you include Edge, the Microsoft applications are 0.8% ahead. That said, there are few reasons for Mozilla or Microsoft to celebrate. Both browsers have been slipping.

Which brings me to Safari. Apple’s browsers had a reasonable September, but the overall trend is downward. The OS X edition of Safari plummeted over the year and lost almost 20% of its user base. The iPad edition has propped up figures but, despite being the only real iOS browser, usage appears to have plateaued. Even the iPhone version of Safari has been overtaken by UC Browser.

Apple may not care. It remains the world’s largest company, and its products continue to sell well. It seems Apple has the resources but not the will to keep Safari relevant. Perhaps it’s to be expected: the company’s 30% cut of app revenues reduces to 0% on the web.

Complacency has been the cause of many historic downfalls. The browser market is fickle; developers and testers will abandon Safari if the userbase dwindles further. That will inevitably lead to an increasing number of web compatibility issues, and even the most passionate Apple fanboys will begin to reconsider their choices.

The solution? Apple should either embrace the web (again) or permit other vendors to produce alternative iOS browsers and free the platform from Safari’s shackles.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, August to September 2015

Mobile usage slipped half a point during September and now stands at 40.96% of all web activity. The upward trend continues despite this blip.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser August September change relative
Chrome 33.52% 34.38% +0.86% +2.60%
UC Browser 15.87% 16.82% +0.95% +6.00%
iPhone 17.54% 16.78% -0.76% -4.30%
Android 14.46% 13.59% -0.87% -6.00%
Opera Mini/Mobile 13.17% 13.32% +0.15% +1.10%
IEMobile 2.02% 1.99% -0.03% -1.50%
Others 3.42% 3.12% -0.30% -8.80%

As mentioned, the biggest surprise is the iPhone (Safari) falling behind UC Browser, which is phenomenally popular in Asia. Only Chrome came close to matching UC’s growth, although its gains came at the expense of the older Android browser.

Opera remained stable, owing to strong usage in Asia and especially Africa, where it has a Chrome-busting 65% of the mobile market.

  • Adam Longaway

    “The solution? Apple should either embrace the web (again) or permit other vendors to produce alternative iOS browsers and free the platform from Safari’s shackles.”

    Well you said the magic words earlier in your article. Apple has a 30% revenue stream with Apps and 0% for web. I’ve been saying for years now that Apple would like the open web to go away or just be a backwater wasteland (Facebook as well). I’m encouraged that others are starting to see this too :)

    I for one would like to see the Internet & Media not become a gated community that I think is what Apple would like us to have. Only time will tell.

    • Craig Buckler

      Unfortunately, Google is now getting in on the gated community act with their AMP project. Their aims seem laudable but I’m not convinced about the approach.

      It’s partly our fault: the web is a mess and many sites are slow-loading monstrosities. But fixing it by auto-striping content or resorting to non-(sub?-)standard HTML doesn’t feel right.

      • Adam Longaway

        I’m not sure the web at least as far as I can see will work any other way. It’s a mess for many reasons, a few are because the people that make the decisions or pay the bills have a lot of info thrown at them, and i’m sure a bunch of it is bad. So are just real constraints of time/money/quality. That’s for the good sites, the lesser ones just want to squeeze as much money as they can out of each page no matter what. Human nature. It works the same way offline too or with Apps.

        Personally I’d love to see something like a standardized quality index baked into browsers. Something like if your site downloads 2Mb of content, has 4 ads and took 40% of the CPU’s time for X seconds on page load a pop up or some visual is presented saying the site you’re on is of poor technical construction. Basically each bad practice knocking the score down below a known quantifiable threshold. That would at least shame many sites into being better? But then again who’s going to want to see a message like that in real use other than developers. Means nothing, and what if someone really loves some site as is. Who says what the quality should be? All that could be figured out though…

        That reminds me that I’ve thought for years now that browsers should also have some sort of super cache like concept that they just keep a standard set of core JS and CSS libraries on the device updated when new versions come out. No need to download Bootstrap, jQuery or GreenSock you already have the latest versions and the browser knows it so it doesn’t even need to query out for it. No need for even a CDN since the browser is the CDN but then we get into what libraries are core? Still I love the idea as it would remove a giant block of code from many sites right off the top. If only I worked at Google to pitch that idea :)

        Anyways yeah it’s a mess.

  • Jerzy Kurowski

    I’m starting to have similar feeling towards Safari as once I had for IE7 – When can we finally give up on this monster. It takes up to 30% of testing and fixing CSS time – a browser with <10% user base.

    • Adam Longaway

      Just make Apps and forget the browsers! :)

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