By Craig Buckler

Browser Trends September 2011: Can Anyone Stop Chrome?

By Craig Buckler

Despite the ongoing Firefox releases, the browser market has remained quiet during the summer months.

So here are the latest statistics. I’ve changed the table so Firefox 4, 5 and 6 are amalgamated into one; it makes little sense to analyze the separate figures since most of those users update their browsers as new versions appear:

Browser July August change relative
IE 9.0 7.27% 8.05% +0.78% +10.70%
IE 8.0 26.30% 25.68% -0.62% -2.40%
IE 7.0 5.45% 5.07% -0.38% -7.00%
IE 6.0 3.42% 3.09% -0.33% -9.60%
Firefox 4.0+ 17.66% 18.10% +0.44% +2.50%
Firefox 3.6- 10.30% 9.39% -0.91% -8.80%
Chrome 22.17% 23.17% +1.00% +4.50%
Safari 5.15% 5.18% +0.03% +0.60%
Opera 1.66% 1.67% +0.01% +0.60%
Others 0.62% 0.60% -0.02% -3.20%
IE (all) 42.44% 41.89% -0.55% -1.30%
Firefox (all) 27.96% 27.49% -0.47% -1.70%

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 9.6% of IE6 users abandoned the browser last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

IE9 had another good month. Its progress is remains relatively sedate, but there are two solutions if Microsoft want massive adoption:

  1. Offer Windows 7, the hardware which runs it, installation, migration and training services to everyone. For free.
  2. Alternatively, release a version of IE9 which is compatible with XP. The other vendors support XP and still manage to offer fancy features such as hardware acceleration. And CSS3 text shadows.

IE’s overall drop has slowed a little this month, but I suspect that’s a statistical blip while business users enjoy a summer break.

Firefox 4/5/6 is rising but not at the pace Firefox 3/2/1 is falling. While the rapid releases are mostly good, users are becoming frustrated with add-on compatibility failures and memory usage problems on Mac OS. Mozilla is addressing the issues but they’re losing users who may never return.

There’s little to report for Opera and Safari. Both browsers made modest gains, but neither is setting the market alight.

That leaves us with Chrome. It’s the same story: usage continues to grow at 1% per month — sometimes more. If the current trend continues, Chrome will overtake Firefox in December 2011. It’s already occurred in the UK where Chrome has 23.41% lead over Firefox’s 21.75%.

Personally, I like Chrome and regularly recommend or install the browser; it’s fast, simple, stable and updates without fuss. However, I primarily use Firefox (on Windows 7) because it has a range of essential add-ons for power-surfing and development. I thought others would think the same but, having asked the question on Google+, it appears not. Developers are switching to Chrome in droves. Mozilla is losing the technical evangelists who once promoted Firefox.

Mobile Browser Usage

Desktop browsers account for 92.88% of web activity. The remaining 7.12% is mobile access and it’s evident more people are using their phones for general web browsing. The applications they primarily use are:

  1. Opera Mini/Mobile — 21.61% (down 0.46%)
  2. Android — 19.72% (up 1.55%)
  3. Nokia browser — 16.99% (down 0.11%)
  4. iPhone — 14.91% (down 0.19%)
  5. Blackberry — 11.64% (down 0.66%)

Note there are significant regional variations:

  • In the US and Canada, Android takes the top spot with 34.2% followed by the iPhone with 26.1%. Opera accounts for less than 4%.
  • The iPhone is most popular in Europe at 33.7% with Android second at 23.7%.
  • For Oceania, the iPhone has an almost monopolistic lead of 56.7%. Android is way behind at 19.4%.
  • It’s Asia, Africa and South America where Opera and less-expensive Nokia devices reign supreme.

Remember that these figures are collated from internet access — not sales trends. Users with an older mobile are less likely to use the web than those with the latest 3G handset. That said, in the developing world, users may not have access to a PC so mobile is the only option.

  • Anonymous

    This is a fairly pleasing report. The old IEs & old Firefox browsers are falling and Opera finally has increased its share a bit. Although I dislike Google and Chrome for a number of reasons, I think their increasing popularity is good for browser competition.

    Hopefully the longevity of the infamous IE6 will teach browser makers that we need to implement auto-update in the browsers.

  • Anonymous

    “Hey Chrome, stop it, just stop it.”

    Good read, personally I can’t believe Chrome is taking over! I’ve been faithful to Firefox but I may take a look at Chrome if it has any developer capabilities.


  • Björn Holine

    It seems strange that you would you develop on one of the least used browsers.

  • I’ve finally switched from Firefox to Chrome as my default browser, solely for memory usage issues. I now only use Firefox for developing (Firebug is still the best, IMO) and keeping my business Gmail permanently open. If Firefox can sort out those memory issues on OSX (and *all* browser vendors need to do the same) I might switch back, though.

    • awasson

      Have you tried Firebug Lite in Chrome? It’s a little buggy maybe but it still allows you to inspect the document and modify it.

  • Guest

    I am Web Developer and moved from Firefox to Chrome few months ago… it’s a lot better!

  • **’woohoo:..>. i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $ 42.77 each and a $ 50 amazon card for $ 9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. go here CentHub.cōm

  • **’woohoo:..>. i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $ 42.77 each and a $ 50 amazon card for $ 9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. go here CentHub.cōm

  • I moved from Firefox to Chrome after FF started crashing. I eliminated all but the key addons and FFR still crashed – often after I had worked for a couple of hours. Chrome has matured to the point where I can get my work done — there are enough key extensions for what I need. I *do* miss FireFTP (FTP in Chrome is broken – download only), but portable filezilla takes care of my needs in that area.

  • HTML tables are still used for tables. The styles are a little wonky, but we’re looking into that…

  • I think there’s a little confusion here.

    If you’re laying out a web page, you don’t use a table – you use CSS.

    However, if you’re presenting tabular data, that’s what the HTML table tags are for. Tables haven’t been deprecated or banned by the layout police.

  • Anonymous

    Ever since Firefox switched to the fast upgrade cycle, it’s stability has considerably decreased. It’s annoying enough that essential add-ons stop working every few weeks now with every new release, but now the stability of the browser is going downhill. I regularly get messages now that tell me that Firefox can’t be started, because a firefox.exe process is running and needs to be stopped before Firefox can open again. For me, it’s no problem, just open task manager, stop and that’s it. But, for others who have no idea what task manager is?

    Many times now, I would leave Firefox open overnight. Ever since version 5, it has started crashing when I wake up my computer and come back to it the next day.

    Maybe it’s just bumps in the road as they figure out their new fast-release cycle. Chrome seems to be much smoother at upgrading, and the web-dev tools have rapidly caught up to FF. And now that one of the creators of Firebug works for Google, Chrome is becoming my browser of choice, but I still use FF from time to time for certain add-ons that I still haven’t been able to find equivalents for on Chrome.

    • I started experiencing the same stability issues with Firefox 6 too. However, I may have found a fix. Look out for an article on SitePoint soon…

      • awasson

        I keep reading comments about stability of Firefox but I haven’t experienced any myself that I can think of… What are the issues? I’ve got FF on Windows but my main machine these days is a Mac so maybe it’s running better on Apple hardware?

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. People have become so afraid of tables. The fact is that tables were NEVER ‘bad’, it’s just the way they were (mis)used that was bad. The right tool for the right job, and for a table, that is tabular data. That’s why it’s called ‘tabular’ (i.e., for tables).

  • HAHAHAHAHA. Um. Tabular. Data.

  • Tim Baxter

    I now have Firefox 6 working as well as 4 with no crashing problems at all. The not crashing is not through design by me, so I must be lucky.

    What really ticked me off was spending almost a full office day customising it in the same way I’d had it for many years. I’ll certainly be looking at other options the next time that auto-upgrade box pops up.

  • ……….I just got a $829.99 iPad2 for only $103.37 and my mom got a $1499.99 HDTV for only $251.92, they are both coming with USPS tomorrow. I would be an idiot to ever pay full retail prices at places like Walmart or Bestbuy. I sold a 37″ HDTV to my boss for $600 that I only paid $78.24 for. I use (Bidsget) . (com)

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