When Can I Use has posted a nice browser usage table, which includes mobile browsers and a breakdown by browser version. Compared with the browser market share analysis at Wikipedia, the numbers do line up quite well for the major categories, although there are some interesting discrepancies when you get down into the weeds.
I love looking at statistics and seeing what jumps out at you. What I see from these numbers today, here in September of 2011, is this:
- IE is only 39% of browser market share now. Remember ten years ago? Yeah, times have changed.
- Chrome is doing quite well. It’s going to overtake Firefox at this rate. 21% – that’s amazing.
- Going by the When Can I Use analysis, if you combine Chrome, Safari, iOS, and Android, you have about 29% market share for WebKit browsers.
- If these trends continue, and I see every indication that they will, Google Chrome will become the dominant browser platform sometime in the first half of 2012.
Fascinating. I’m going to need to make more popcorn.
IE continues it’s downward spiral as the browser dips below 69% at the expense of Firefox and the WebKit-powered duo of Apple Safari and Google Chrome. The breakdown as paraphrased by TG Daily:
Net Applications released updated global browser market share numbers today, indicating that IE is losing users at an accelerated pace. The browser’s share dropped from 69.77% in November to 68.15% in December. Most rivals were able to pick up a portion of what IE surrendered. Firefox gained more than half a point and ended up at 21.34%, Safari approaches the next big hurdle with 7.93% and Chrome came in at 1.04%, the first time Google was able to cross the 1% mark. Opera remained stable 0.71%, but it is clear that the Norwegian browser cannot attract any users IE loses.
This is no surprise. Taking into account the seasonal fluctuation towards home users in December which point to higher “non-corporate” platforms and browsers, this is still a landmark statistic and shows that if the gradual decline continues, 60% and 50% are not that far off in the future. As the trend for Firefox and WebKit to rise at the expense of IE has been continuing for some time now. What surprises me are a couple of things though, specifically:
- The rate at which IE is losing overall market share: While I predicted a decline in market share over the long term, I didn’t think I’d ever see it declining at the rate it is currently declining on a month to month average. It just seems steep to me.
- Opera adoption: I thought that more people would pick up Opera – at least I thought they’d have 2 or 3 percent by now. They are by far the most deployed browser on the mobile web, but nobody knows it really because they could care less what browser is being activated from their baked-up phone UI, and it’s unlikely that they use it much (which is the fault of the phone vendors – Opera Mobile by itself is great.) I like Opera. It’s not my default browsaer, but I find myself using it from time to time for certain things. Certainly for print and presentations, and also it’s handy mobile web dev in Small Screen mode.
I wonder how much of those Safari numbers are being driven from iPhone and iPod Touch users? What is also interesting in these metrics is the inclusion of Google’s Chrome browser, which again is based on the WebKit core that Safari is founded upon. Chrome broke 1%, and at the same time they have begun recommending against IE and in favor of Firefox and Chrome for Google Gmail users. This is an interesting coup attempt to grab their Gmail base still floundering on IE6, and it is even more noteworthy that IE7 was not mentioned as an alternative. I am betting Chrome will be a major contender a year from now, and the overall WebKit market share might even approach Firefox’s levels. What is probably safe to predict is that IE will continue to lose out to Firefox and WebKit-based browsers and I would not be surprised at this point if the rate of increase in adoption of alternative browsers began to accelerate in 2009 towards these platforms.
It is nice to see strong lines of diversity returning to the browser market. The benefit will be for better browsers and stronger support overall for web standards.
Downloaded Firefox Three Point Oh this evening and I must say I’m impressed. Last check was a few beta revisions ago, and this is much improved in the one area I am most concerned with: stability. I have been running it all evening and she’s been perfectly stable so far.
PPK has posted a quick roundup of the current browser state of affairs today. Seems we have beta 2 of IE8 due out in August, which is good because I don’t want to deal with it until then. 😉 Of course Firefox 3 is out and looking fabulous, and a Firefox 3.1 alpha is now available with alleged full CSS3 selector support. Safari 4 is a developer preview, and Opera 9.5 is already live.
So the great news is, things are not stagnant – things are moving forward at a lovely clip. IE6 is soon to be ancient history – two revisions old – and the rest of the browser market is vibrant and embracing standards and innovating on coolness all around.
Gruber has noted that when you hit the Firefox 3 page you get a comparison with Safari if you’re on Mac, and other users seem to be getting the IE to FF comparison.
Most of my essential plugins are working great. There is a Firebug 1.1 beta available on the releases page if you’re missing that. ScribeFire and the del.icio.us plugins seem to be fine and really the del.icio.us plugin wins in the most improved category. Still no HTML Validator yet for Mac, but I’ll be watching the skies on that one…
OK back to to practicing…
Microsoft recently posted confirmation that their early builds of Internet Explorer 8 pass the Acid2 test for proper CSS rendering support. This was hailed as wonderful news among web developers worldwide as a momentus occasion where we could finally adhere to web development specifications as written and as intended.
And then came the big let-down.
In a more recent post, Microsoft announced that in order to have IE8 enter true standards mode, you’d have to enter an extra HTML meta tag. An extra, non-semantic, content-free, crufty, browser-specific meta tag. As if this were some parting shot – some way of saying (in your best Joe Pesci “Goodfellas” voice:) “Oh yeah you want standards mode? I got your standards mode right here baby! Yeah….”
I read that announcement and felt deflated. I tried to rationalize it, saying hey – at least we know that there is some otherworldly way to get IE to behave to spec finally – but then the rationalist in me ultimately won out and rejected this categorically bad idea. This is wrong on many levels:
- This penalizes web developers who have been striving to adhere to web standards and do the right thing, while rewarding bad behavior.
- This inserts yet another rendering mode. How many rendering modes do we need to support? Will there be more?
- This inserts the idea of targeting browsers with versioning. Future browsers. Not past browsers. This sets up the case for decades of cruft and bloated code.
- This added tag will ultimately mean many terabytes of added bandwidth and added disk space. Good for vendors, bad for you.
- Already-standards-compliant Firefox, Opera, and Safari are doing just fine and increasing their market share while IE wanes.
I stopped at 5, but if you read the comments to the post over at the IE blog, you’ll find many more. If you really feel the need to provide backwards compatibility to all those sites who were trying their best but still had to hack otherwise standards-compliant sites up to get them to work properly in IE 6 and 7, then give them the meta tag option. I’ll wager the few who care and would rather insert this meta tag over coding their web sites to spec will be happy, and the lions share of web site owners out there won’t have a care in the world if it works or not. Because let’s admit it: Most of them will have moved on by the time IE8 matters.
Thanks to @mrsnap and @bikracer for turning me on to Flock. It seems to like my favorite web developer extensions, namely the Web Developer Toolbar and Firebug, and the social network features are a bonus. I was getting bummed out by Firefox’s incessant crashing, and this browser seems faster, more stable, and has some really interesting features. The user interface is a bit cluttered, although I’m doing it no favors by adding so much cruft on top of it, but other than that it seems pretty fun to use so far.