Programming - - By Craig Buckler

Browser Trends September 2012: Chrome’s First Loss

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.