By Craig Buckler

Browser Trends September 2012: Chrome’s First Loss

By Craig Buckler

Where did August go? Another month has passed and, while it’s getting cooler for many of us, the browser market according to StatCounter’s statistics is hotting up…

Worldwide Browser Statistics July 2012 to August 2012

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

Browser July August change relative
IE (all) 31.99% 32.85% +0.86% +2.70%
IE 9.0+ 16.93% 17.57% +0.64% +3.80%
IE 8.0 13.26% 13.65% +0.39% +2.90%
IE 7.0 1.28% 1.16% -0.12% -9.40%
IE 6.0 0.52% 0.47% -0.05% -9.60%
Firefox 23.76% 22.84% -0.92% -3.90%
Chrome 33.90% 33.65% -0.25% -0.70%
Safari 7.13% 7.41% +0.28% +3.90%
Opera 1.71% 1.64% -0.07% -4.10%
Others 1.51% 1.61% +0.10% +6.60%

Worldwide Browser Statistics August 2011 to August 2012

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past 12 months:

Browser August 2011 August 2012 change relative
IE (all) 41.89% 32.85% -9.04% -21.60%
IE 9.0+ 8.05% 17.57% +9.52% +118.30%
IE 8.0 25.68% 13.65% -12.03% -46.80%
IE 7.0 5.07% 1.16% -3.91% -77.10%
IE 6.0 3.09% 0.47% -2.62% -84.80%
Firefox 27.49% 22.84% -4.65% -16.90%
Chrome 23.17% 33.65% +10.48% +45.20%
Safari 5.18% 7.41% +2.23% +43.10%
Opera 1.67% 1.64% -0.03% -1.80%
Others 0.60% 1.61% +1.01% +168.30%

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.

I’ve made a number of modifications to the tables. Firefox 3.7 and below accounts for less than 1.5% of the market; it’s increasingly irrelevant so it’s figures have been combined with Firefox 4+. IE6 and 7 will remain for a little while longer. They’re also low, but watching the numbers tumble provides small moments of joy for all web developers. You should also be aware that Chrome and Safari figures include the desktop and tablet editions, but not mobile (see below).

September’s shocking news: Chrome’s market share has dropped for the first time. Admittedly, a loss of 0.25% could be a statistical blip, but this is a browser which normally enjoys a 1% monthly growth. Has Chrome reached its natural plateau? I’m not convinced that’s the case but the browser has far healthier competition.

Firefox also posted a large drop of almost 1%. The browser has decreased 4.65% during the past year and, while recent editions are very good, people have not forgotten upgrade hassles caused when they switched to Firefox 4.0. Mozilla are working hard to regain user trust but it will take time.

September’s biggest overall winner is Internet Explorer. Microsoft will be elated with that news in the build up to the Windows 8 and IE10 launch. IE9 is continuing its slow but steady growth. Bizarrely — and worryingly — IE8 also had a small increase. What’s that about? I doubt it’s a long-term trend; IE8 usage halved during the past year.

Safari continues to make small gains and had a great month. Dropping the Windows and older Mac versions was unlikely to have a major impact, although I still think it’s a mistake.

Opera continues to fluctuate between 1.5% and 2.0% and its percentage has barely changed in 12 months. It’s a great browser and deserves more, but I’m not convinced it offers enough compelling benefits to encourage users to switch.

Mobile Browser Usage

August’s mobile usage rose a little to 11.78% of all web activity. I suspect it will begin to drop back a little when the summer holidays and Olympics end.

The primary mobile browsing applications are:

  1. Android — 24.40% (up 1.26%)
  2. iPhone — 20.81% (down 0.64%)
  3. Opera Mini/Mobile – 19.34% (down 0.08%)
  4. Nokia browser — 10.18% (up 0.03%)
  5. UC Browser — 7.79% (down 0.40%)

Android had another good month but, overall, there was surprisingly little movement in the mobile browser chart.

The combined mobile editions of IE, Chrome and Firefox currently account for less than 2% of the market. I suspect those numbers could begin to rise rapidly when Microsoft’s Surface devices appear, Chrome becomes the default Android browser and Mozilla release their Firefox OS.

  • I think Chrome’s usage may be as high as it is because it comes installed on some new computers. I haven’t seen that with Firefox or Opera.

    • Is it provided as the default browser in preference to IE?

    • Anon

      Firefox is the default browser on most Linux distros. IE is the default browser on all Windows computers. Safari is the default browser on all Macs.

    • Patrick


      • Stephen

        Hehe… Chrome books, what are they? Once xp isnt supported anymore in a year or two the ie number will change very quickly because enterprise will upgrade. I personally don’t mind developing with ie9 in the mix. Is come along way, and canvas optimizations are pretty good

      • Tiller

        Chromebooks are laptops that use the Chrome OS. Don’t bother using them if your download a lot of things. It can’t support it. Only get a Chromebook if you like surfing the net day and night with Google Chrome. :D

  • James

    I work in the UK’s NHS and my organisation is preparing to move away from IE6 now that other software hurdles have been passed. However, because the standard OS is XP, we are upgrading only to IE8.

    Situations like that, along with home users seeing Microsoft’s heavy advertising of IE and trying an update (but finding they can only get version 8 on their XP install) would seem to me to be an adequate explanation for the increase in that particular flavour of browser.

    • Possibly, although IE6, 7 and 8 have all been reducing steadily for a while now. IE8 may have enjoyed a minor resurgence in August, but it’s still 12% lower than this time last year.

      • Les

        I have an ill feeling that we will be stuck with IE for quite a while yet, regardless of what version of browser. Only we the people can do something about it, such as simply not using it if it’s not possible to uninstall it, and of course to “complain” to your respective company or organisation about how inadequate this browser is.

        Just because it comes installed out of the box, doesn’t mean to say we should be using it. Would we install and use it if it were not there? Exactly…

      • I can confirm also where I work we have two options IE6 or IE8, IE6 is the only option on our shared/secure environments. For new Windows 7 machines they deem IE8 as “new enough” for some reason but I don’t know any logic behind it.

  • Stevie D

    Of course, with Windows Mobile phones not supporting Opera (grrrr), that is going to see an increase in people using IE.

  • Les

    Well I am not amused at Google Chrome (and Safari for that matter), as these browsers completely mucked up my CSS based layout of a new website I’m working on, and all based upon the whitespace and tabs found in my HTML5.

    This is just basic formatting to allow editing of the templates a lot easier for myself, so basically I have some templates that have no whitespace at all, making editing clearly impossible, so Firefox is still my first choice for browsing, etc.

    So this is my giving Google and Apple the finger :D

    • Nelson

      I’m curious, I have whitespace in my html files (no abuse though) but never noticed it breaking layouts in Chrome. Could you provide an example?

    • jmoney

      Hmmm, that seems very strange. If I was to guess… I would say there is something wrong with your code. Chrome, and Safari for the most part, is a pretty compliant browser. Can you provide a link to your site? What browser to you use as a base to develop from? … please don’t say IE :)

    • Marc


    • Keith

      Design is simple, do it right the first time and you wont have the problem, Chrome and Safari are among the MOST COMPLIANT browsers around, they didn’t muck your work up, up did by not doing it properly!!

      • Keith

        That should read ‘You did by not doing properly’ not ‘up did’ sorry for typo – see how easy something can be done wrong, proof read and test, before you go live… lol

  • I’m not surprised at Chrome’s drop. It has been my first development and browsing choice for a year or two and I stopped using it a few months ago due to lagging, glitches and it’s inexcusably poor rendering of web fonts. I’ve seen countless others voicing the same complaints lately. Whatever is going on over there, they need to fix it fast.

  • Keith

    We all know by now that IE (Any Version) is the least compliant of ALL popular browsers. Microsoft seems to be ignorant of the fact that W3C make the rules of the web, NOT Microsoft. Chrome, Safari, Opera and Firefox seem to have no real issues with trying to comply with W3C. Hence why they are continuing to supply updates/upgrades. Yes some versions do have faults and are fixed in updates to.

    I will repeat, as long as you code sites properly, watch for typos, test, test and re-test before you go live, you should be able to keep any problems to a minimum or have none at all (We can all only hope).

    When developing you MUST test in all top browsers, not just the one of your choice. Unfortunately, you do have to include IE in those tests.

  • Still getting 10-15% of users on IE6 and 7 on my sites. Very annoying.

  • DannyC

    The statistic dip for chrome for August is caused by the number of weekends and holidays. Chrome does better on the weekends and holidays and there were fewer of them in August, then July or September.

    • It’s true that Chrome has a higher proportion of home users, but August only had one weekend day fewer than June and July. I don’t know where you’re based, but many countries have August holidays too. Even without those, many people are off school and work.

      But a drop from +1% to -0.25% can’t be explained by holidays alone. I suspect it’s a minor blip, but Chrome can’t continue that growth forever.

      • DannyC

        Well there are too many countries to go through, but in the U.S. there was the July 4th holiday and many companies give extra days around that, and or people just took the entire week off.

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