Browser Wars! The Browser Market Shares moving into 2011
A fierce war has ensued over the last year between competing web browsers, each trying to dominate one another, in struggles to attain a bigger piece of the pie within the browser share market.
During the final yearly quarter of 2010, Internet Explorer’s total worldwide market share commanded just short of 50% dominance, measured against the top 5 browsers for the same time period (See first image). Quite a large chunk you might think but of course, this consists of all the flavours of Internet Explorer from version 8 backwards. Moving now into the first yearly quarter of 2011, we can see that Internet Explorer’s collective share has dropped to roughly 45.5%, despite the release of IE 9, losing almost 3% to mainly Google’s Chrome (See second image).
Even though Internet Explorer has lost a significant portion of its former share, we are not to assume that usability of its browsers is diminishing – in fact, generally speaking most browsers have enjoyed an increase in overall use – that is, more users using their browsers – due to the increased development of communication infrastructures in lesser-developed countries, such as South Africa, for example. So we are looking at a relative percentage share of the market and my image examples do not compare absolute figures, but proportional quantities.
Analysis by Browser Version
If we look at a more granular representation of the stats considering the browsers by version, things start to get more interesting - certainly for web developers - for which the information is useful, when developing browser compatible websites. Firstly, Google Chrome 11.0 makes its introduction, weighing in at 0.11% in the space of a few months.
Not a huge piece of the pie though when you consider the likes of the top 6 leaders:
Into this year's new quarter we see the outcome of the ferocious wars that have occurred in the last 6 months, within the browser share market. The proportion of IE 6.0 users has dropped to less than 5% (1.73% drop since late 2010), which is excellent news for us developers!
The most successful browser flavour is Chrome 9.0 at an increase of 5.65%; although its accomplishment immediately negated by the descent of its version 7.0 predecessor, which fell by 5.7%. In fact, divvying up Chrome's 'wins' and 'losses', we see that it only gains an overall 3.01% increase. Into 2011, Chrome 8.0 overtakes version 7.0 to be the most used version of Chrome – unsurprising as version 8.0 is the official stable release at the time of writing this article.
In other browser news, we have a decrease for IE 7.0 of 1.73% from 11.85% back in October - December 2010 and a slight increase of IE 8.0 usage from 29.56% to 30.2% for the same term. This suggests that IE users are generally tending towards more modern versions of the, often so-called, infamous browser, IE. With the recent release of IE 9.0, and the lucrative marketing of the Microsoft product, we might start to see an increase in IE 9.0 usage, however it requires Windows Vista or above to run so XP users will be left with the alternate browser options.
As for Safari and Opera, who have both been notable worthy adversaries, we see their usage increasing only slightly; Opera's share up by a mere 0.01% and Safari by 0.38% (stats include the "Safari iPad" browser). For Opera, the majority of the activity seems to be lent to users ditching Opera 10.6 for the newer 11.0 version.
Finally, considering Firefox and its variants, the figures show a drop of 0.7% for its usage proportion over the last few months.
Conclusions & Future Predictions
With Chrome, Safari and Opera showing continual positive results I suspect their portions will continue to increase for domestic use, especially for users who are at liberty to choose and install their preferred web browser. Universities and institutions that have policy lock down forbidding the installation of software on their workstations will eventually be forced to upgrade so that their users can take advantage of new web technologies and rich media platforms that their perhaps out-dated browsers will not support (i.e. IE).
For home use, social media such as YouTube and Facebook will play a very important role as users will be forced to upgrade their older browsers to view these rich media heavy resources, especially since YouTube has dropped support for IE 6 earlier last year in 2010. I predict that users will quickly upgrade almost immediately when they realise they cannot view their beloved social networking websites properly!
IE 7 will soon start to disappear from household PCs and the general consensus of browsers will be a more standards compliant approach to W3C outlines. IE 9, Firefox 4, Opera 11, Safari 5 and Chrome 10+ will continue a fierce war moving into 2012, all with ambitious software version release dates planned every few months. IE 7 will continue to be used in establishments and institutions where software updating is not commonplace and will be around until at least next year, before web developers can drop compatibility support for it.
In our technologically advanced age, home users will tend to require access to information instantly and things such as application load times (the time it takes the web browser to open and become usable after launching it) could simply be a more significant feature of a browser, compared the browser's features, add-ons and plug-ins. Google Chrome will benefit greatly from this being lightweight, and might prosper greatly (for the now) as a result of this.
Stats sourced from StatCounter.com. View the methodology used to calculate StatCounter's market share statistics.