Browser Trends October 2015: Sustained Safari Slips

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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.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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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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