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Browser Trends September 2014: Chrome Is the Top Mobile Browser

By Craig Buckler

Last month’s browser trends report was all about mobiles. It’s a recurring theme in the latest figures from StatCounter.

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, July to August 2014

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

Browser July August change relative
IE (all) 21.36% 20.31% -1.05% -4.90%
IE11 9.08% 9.10% +0.02% +0.20%
IE10 3.34% 3.05% -0.29% -8.70%
IE9 3.30% 3.12% -0.18% -5.50%
IE8 5.22% 4.68% -0.54% -10.30%
IE7 0.14% 0.14% +0.00% +0.00%
IE6 0.28% 0.22% -0.06% -21.40%
Chrome 45.39% 46.37% +0.98% +2.20%
Firefox 17.50% 17.48% -0.02% -0.10%
Safari 4.41% 4.42% +0.01% +0.20%
iPad Safari 6.16% 6.38% +0.22% +3.60%
Opera 1.34% 1.42% +0.08% +6.00%
Others 3.84% 3.62% -0.22% -5.70%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, August 2013 to August 2014

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

Browser August 2013 August 2014 change relative
IE (all) 25.53% 20.31% -5.22% -20.40%
IE11 0.02% 9.10% +9.08% +45,400.00%
IE10 11.34% 3.05% -8.29% -73.10%
IE9 5.20% 3.12% -2.08% -40.00%
IE8 8.27% 4.68% -3.59% -43.40%
IE7 0.47% 0.14% -0.33% -70.20%
IE6 0.23% 0.22% -0.01% -4.30%
Chrome 42.85% 46.37% +3.52% +8.20%
Firefox 19.26% 17.48% -1.78% -9.20%
Safari 8.57% 10.80% +2.23% +26.00%
Opera 1.14% 1.42% +0.28% +24.60%
Others 2.65% 3.62% +0.97% +36.60%

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. 10.3% of IE8 users switched browsers last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated.

Chrome is the biggest winner and has reverted back to it’s 1% monthly gain. That said, the browser has only achieved 3.5% in the past year so growth has plateaued.

There was little to report for Firefox and Safari although Opera enjoyed a small jump. Version 23 was released recently and, while it still lacks functionality present in the Presto edition, it’s a capable browser which feels faster than Chrome.

Unsurprisingly, Chrome’s gain meant another loss for Internet Explorer. It’s managed to hover above 20% for some time but will almost certainly fall below that threshold before the end of 2014. IE11 may never reach the maximum 13% market share gained by IE10 in October 2013. Despite being a good all-round browser, IE11 is available on fewer platforms and isn’t better than any other application. It also has an image problem; Microsoft has even considered a name change to distinguish the browser from it’s tarnished past. (“Web Explorer” would be more accurate too!)

Question: do you still want to see separate figures for IE6 and IE7 in next month’s report? There’s a hardcore of usage, but the browsers have barely moved in a year and could be summed in a single “IE8-” figure.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, July to August 2014

Mobile usage increased by 1.2% during August 2014 to reach 30.64% of all web activity. The summer months in the Northern hemisphere may explain some of this gain but it’s impossible to refute the mobile growth trend.

There are several reasons why mobile usage has trebled in two years:

  1. Handset costs. The top end of the market remains eye-wateringly expensive but smartphones are now available with basic payment plans.
  2. Device capability. Larger screens and better processors allow us to use mobiles for activities which would have required a PC a few years ago.
  3. Developing world adoption. Mobile growth in Asia, Africa and South America has exploded — even in places where the PC era passed unnoticed. Many are ahead of Western countries in respect to mobile commerce and micro-payments.

The top mobile browsing applications:

Mobile Browser July August change relative
Chrome 21.53% 22.67% +1.14% +5.30%
Android 22.91% 22.35% -0.56% -2.40%
iPhone 22.94% 21.75% -1.19% -5.20%
Opera Mini/Mobile 11.11% 11.15% +0.04% +0.40%
UC Browser 9.56% 10.33% +0.77% +8.10%
Nokia Browser 3.87% 3.89% +0.02% +0.50%
IEMobile 2.40% 2.34% -0.06% -2.50%
Others 5.68% 5.52% -0.16% -2.80%

As I predicted last month, Chrome has overtaken both the iPhone and stock Android apps to become the number one browser on mobile devices. A considerable achievement given that Chrome accounted for just 4% of the mobile market this time last year and the stock Android browser has only fallen 6% in the same period.

Chrome is now the top mobile and desktop browser. It deserves that place but should we be concerned about Google’s dominance? Hopefully they’ll remember what happened to the last company who enjoyed a browser monopoly.

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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