View Full Version : Browser Market Share

11-02-2011, 01:58 PM
I came across a post this morning showing October numbers for browser market share (http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/11/the-end-of-an-era-internet-explorer-drops-below-50-percent-of-web-usage.ars). The post has the usual pie charts and graphs showing trends for the year.

The post was written because IE has finally slipped below 50% market share, something anyone paying attention could see was coming. A few years ago it's market share was being taken away by Firefox, but over the last year or two the market share has gone to Chrome, which may or may not have now overtaken FF as the #2 browser in terms of market share.

One of things I found interesting in the data is the rise of mobile browsing. It accounts for 6% of all internet browsing and it's a quickly growing segment of the browser market. On mobile, Safari is leading the pack.

Again most of this information isn't really new. The specific numbers may be, but the trend has been clear for a couple of years now. Mobile browsing is rising. Chrome on the desktop is heading towards becoming the dominant browser and IE usage is slipping. If your designing and developing a site it's good to understand these trends to better understand how people will access your site.

That's why the mobile upswing is the most important part of this to me. Designing for mobile requires some new thinking and techniques in how we design and now is the time to start learning those techniques and adjusting your thinking.

Of course you should always check the stats for the specific site you're working on and they may not match the global numbers at the moment. They should still be following the trends though.

11-02-2011, 03:09 PM
the usual pie charts

That's not a pie chart its a doughnut chart :)

And you still get major companies like Dunn and Bradstreet requiring IE as a browser. What are their webmasters thinking?

11-02-2011, 03:47 PM
I guess they are donut charts. I hadn't realized they had a specific term when the center was missing. I hope they're jelly donut charts. I like jelly.

I think companies like D&B built intranets and tools years ago that only work in IE so they've committed themselves to using until they're willing to redevelop the tools and intranet. Sooner or later they'll have to. Many of them require IE6 to work and Microsoft has stopped supporting IE6 Much of the web is dropping support for it too. IE7 isn't too far beyond.

11-02-2011, 04:32 PM
Interesting data. IE still has a pretty firm grip, though. It looks as if mobile browsers are making a dent, but I'd still take my big monitor over a mobile browser any day.

11-02-2011, 05:24 PM
I've never tried Chrome. Has anyone used it? Is it a good browser?

I stay away from IE unless I absolutely have to use it. Firefox is my browser of choice and has been for a while.

11-02-2011, 05:35 PM
I have a habit of toggling between FF and Chrome. Chrome always seems to load web pages faster...

You should give it a try and see if you like it, Kristine..

Business Attorney
11-02-2011, 05:38 PM
I keep defaulting back to Firefox when I am browsing but I have installed Chrome and find that it generally loads pages a little faster and is a lot less of a resource hog than Firefox. Still, I am comfortable with Firefox and have left it as my default browser.

11-02-2011, 05:46 PM
I would think FF is still the best for web design (and other) plugins. How does Chrome score for plugin's?

11-02-2011, 06:20 PM
Heather, IE still has the most market share, but the trend for IE isn't good. Keep in mind it wasn't that long ago when IE held a 95%+ market share. I think Chrome is going to pass it before long.

Chrome is a good browser. I personally don't use it because it doesn't seem to work as well on a Mac whereas Safari seems to. It's the opposite on Windows machines where Chrome works well and Safari isn't so great. FF is a memory hog for me. Most anytime my computer is slowing down it's because FF is hanging on to too much memory. It's the one program I have to restart on a normal day. I keep it open though to be able to test in a different rendering engine.

I think the webkit browsers (Safari and Chrome) are now the leaders in terms of their general support to web standards.Webkit has really good tools for web development built in and I hardly use the ones in FF anymore. Chrome has a robust set of extensions or plugins or whatever they're called in Chrome. Many of the popular FF extensions have been ported over and more are added all the time.

I expect in time you'll see Chrome sitting at #1 for market share with FF and IE behind with similar numbers. Safari will remain in 4th place though it's market share is generally higher on Macs and of course it leads by a lot on the mobile side.

11-03-2011, 01:32 PM
Hmm, thanks for the feedback on Chrome. I may have to install it and see if I like it.

11-03-2011, 01:34 PM
It is a good browser. You'll likely find it faster than whatever you're using now.

11-03-2011, 01:39 PM
Ya, I might give Chrome a try on Linux as well. I am having the same memory issues with FF. I'm having complete computer seizures which I suspect are FF related. I always have about 3 instances of FF running and a lot of tabs.

11-03-2011, 05:58 PM
Those trends come as no surprise, nor am I surprised that my favorite browser (Opera) only has a sliver on the charts. For speed, features, and functionality, Opera really grew on me once I gave it a fair test drive.

The downside...site compatibility is limited. I don't find sites too often that don't work at all, but some don't support full functionality. Netflix would be a well known example. You can view and search their site just fine, but you can't watch anything. Occasionally a shopping site will give me a dire warning that my browser is not supported. This forum won't allow me to use the keyboard shortcut, Alt+S, to post so I have to click the button. A few annoyances, but I take the good with the bad.

Although many users would probably like Opera if they try it a while, the tech stuff I do makes it even more appealing. It has some really nice features that allow me to analyze and troubleshoot code when needed. If you like Chrome, you just might like Opera better. I suspect Opera was the biggest influence on Chrome development.

A little more on topic, I've watched this trend with great interest over the years. Where MS was untouchable at one time, their refusal to comply with "standards" meant to improve the online experience for everyone was probably the biggest contributor to their downward slide. They thought they could stay on top through brute force and insisting on their own way like AOL did. The fact that IE9 seeks to be more "standards compliant" suggests they are rethinking that. Probably too late though.

11-04-2011, 12:12 AM
Steve check the marketshare for mobile browsers. Opera mini has 18%+ of the mobile market. That should make you happy. :)

Opera has good tools. So do the webkit browsers and FF. IE is still lacking some, but it has improved a lot the last few versions. IE10 looks like it will catch up quite a bit too. The main problem with IE isn't the current version though. It's all the people who haven't upgraded and are using IE8 or below.

I'm not sure Chrome copied Opera. Opera has certainly brought some browser features to market, but Chrome is built on Webkit, which itself was based on KHTML. Webkit goes back as far as 2001 and KHTML as far back as 1998. Personally I find the webkit developer tools the easiest to work with. Have you used Dragonfly in Opera? Some nice tools there as well.

11-04-2011, 01:32 PM
I did notice that Opera Mini stat on mobile devices, vangogh, and did find it interesting too. I haven't used Dragonfly extensively. In fact, there are several tools in Opera I really haven't explored as much as I should.

I haven't researched the detailed background on Chrome either, but I figured with so much similarity in features, layout, and functionality, there must have been some influence there even if Chrome has a completely different chassis underneath and is powered by a different engine.

11-04-2011, 03:00 PM
Dragonfly is nice. It's similar to how the webkit developer tools and Firebug work. Those have become my main browser development tools.

I'm sure some of Opera's features influenced the other browsers. If I remember Opera was the first to offer multiple tabs and I guess they had extensions before anyone else too. I think at this point all browsers have introduced new features that influence the other though.

11-04-2011, 05:33 PM
Steve check the marketshare for mobile browsers. Opera mini has 18%+ of the mobile market. That should make you happy. :)

I use FF on my desktop/laptop and Opera on my mobile. Only reason I use Opera on my mobile is because of this feature (Which I assume is why it has a decent market share):
"Opera Mini fetches all content through a proxy server that reformats web pages into a format more suitable for small screens. A page is compressed, then delivered to the phone in a markup language called OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language). This compression process makes transfer time about two to three times faster and the pre-processing also increases compatibility with web pages not designed for mobile phones."

11-06-2011, 12:25 AM
I not to surprised. I have used Chrome for a majority of my browsing for almost a year. The resent update to my site is optimized for Chrome with tweaks to make it IE comparable. I don't even worry about IE6, it's market share is not worth the trouble.

11-07-2011, 12:10 PM
Opera Mini fetches all content through a proxy server that reformats web pages into a format more suitable for small screens

Interesting. Does the page look different then from how it's originally designed or is the reformatting more in the code?

I don't even worry about IE6

I think whatever use IE6 has at this point is mostly corporations who built tools that only work on IE6. Microsoft stopped supporting it and I think it's time the rest of us do as well.

11-07-2011, 10:17 PM
Microsoft stopped supporting it and I think it's time the rest of us do as well.

I agree too. IE6 is very insecure with small remaining user base. I gave up worrying if a design blows up in IE6, especially since a fix for IE6 typically creates problems in everything else, and what works in everything else usually is a problem in IE6. It's not worth writing a fix with browser detect just to please IE6. I willingly dance on its grave as much as I looked forward to doing back when Netscape 4 finally met its long awaited demise. That was probably more of a bane and us "old" web guys will shudder just thinking back on that.

11-08-2011, 12:29 AM
Interesting. Does the page look different then from how it's originally designed or is the reformatting more in the code?

In most cases, the pages appear as they were intended to. What I notice is that Opera will resize/compress images, so instead of my phone downloading a 250kb graphic, it can get compressed down to ~25-50kb which would obviously make the pages load faster if theres multiple graphics.

As far as the other stuff, I'd have to assume that it's the code level.

11-08-2011, 02:22 AM
Oh that makes sense. That's a good idea too. It would be nice if all mobile browsers did that. Ideally site developers would server different sized images to different devices or something so that it isn't necessary for the browser to do any extra work, but still it's nice that they can.

One good thing that should happen over the next few years is web developers will be paying more attention to mobile and thinking more about how our sites will work on a variety of devices. It's happening now, though it'll take some time before everyone has caught on.