Early Stats: Google Chrome Hurts Firefox, not IE

Last week, Google declared its bold entry into the web browser market with the fully open source Chrome project (our coverage). It has been generally assumed that Google’s browser is a shot across Microsoft’s bow — either aiming at Internet Explorer or at Windows. But early evidence suggests that out of the gate, it is hurting Firefox more than anyone else.

A blog post at the StatCounter blog examining the first couple of days following the release of Chrome revealed that the browser gained an impressive 1% market share worldwide in just 24 hours. However, the stats also suggested that Firefox and Safari were the browsers shedding users for Chrome, and not IE.

StatCounter reported that both Firefox and Safari saw market share declines after Chrome was released (while IE inexplicably gained a few percentage points). Two days isn’t a lot of data to go on, though, so I thought I’d take a look at SitePoint’s browser stats as well, bearing in mind that SitePoint is an atypical site where over 50% of our users come to us using Firefox. The chart below shows the browser share on SitePoint for the first five days of Chrome’s release, and the day prior.

We saw a similar trend locally at SitePoint that StatCounter saw globally. By day 3, when Chrome hit its peak of 5.08% of all visits to SitePoint, Firefox had fallen off about 4.5%. Safari also saw a dip of a little over a percentage point.

I saw a similar occurrence on my forum site, where Firefox dropped from 71.59% on Monday (it’s a very tech-centric crowd) to 65.74% on Saturday, as Chrome shot up to 4.68%.

Takeaways

It’s impossible to draw any real conclusions from these numbers, as there’s just not enough data yet to do so. Daily fluctuations of a couple of percentage points in browser share are normal. Further, it makes sense that Firefox would see the biggest drop in users, as early adopters who are more likely to be using Firefox than IE, are the most likely to try out Chrome.

And given that Chrome doesn’t run on Mac yet, it is somewhat odd to see the dip in Safari usage (which was seen on both SitePoint and my own site, as well as globally by StatCounter). That means that share change may have been a normal fluctuation, and further illustrates the need for more data before we can draw any conclusions.

On both sites we looked at, Chrome has fallen off a bit since its peak at the middle of last week, though its share of the browser market is still above 4% on two very tech-centric sites. That’s impressive just a week after launch. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months. Will Chrome continue to draw users away from Firefox or will users switch back to Firefox until Chrome matures more? Will Google be able get it onto the desktops of mainstream IE users? When the Mac version of Chrome arrives, how will it affect Safari’s numbers? These are interesting questions that we can hopefully begin to answer over the next couple of months.

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