Your web browser is probably the most important piece of software on your computer nowadays next to the operating system that runs it.
For many years Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) reigned supreme among the browsers, but its position of dominance is slowly being eroded away by competitors.
Mozilla Firefox was the first challenger that seemed to gain some traction, but its growth seems to have stagnated and its share of the usage pie is also declining little by little every month.
Earlier this month StatCounter reported that Chrome had overtaken Firefox as the number 2 browser in the UK.
StatCounter is a web metrics company that says it samples over 15 billion pageviews per month across 3 million websites. Their data is available freely online and also shows various statistics by region and country.
The table below compares the browser usage share globally to that in South Africa.
|StatCounter desktop browser stats: July 2011|
Though there are disputes regarding the accuracy of the statistics collected by organisations like StatCounter, they remain useful to spot trends in browser usage.
When one looks at the data collected since December 2008 for instance, it shows that Internet Explorer has been rapidly losing market share while Chrome has been gaining.
In the last few months Firefox and Opera have also lost out on usage, while Safari, Apple’s browser, has slowly increased its share.
Comparing this to the browser usage of MyBroadband’s visitors reveals similar trends: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera usage are all slightly down while Chrome and Safari have gained usage.
Browsers are ranked by usage on MyBroadband in the table below, with a graph depicting who has the largest slice of the pie among our visitors.
|MyBroadband.co.za browser usage stats: July 2011|
As more people connect to the Internet with their mobile handsets and even tablet PCs, mobile browsers are also becoming more important.
According to StatCounter, mobile browsers received just over 7% of the total global usage in July 2011. In South Africa, mobile browsers had 10.59% of the share.
The below table ranks mobile browsers by their usage in South Africa and also shows their worldwide usage.
|StatCounter mobile browser stats: July 2011|
While Opera and Nokia’s strong position among mobile browsers in South Africa is plausible, the relative positions of iPhone, Android and BlackBerry are questionable.
Although MyBroadband’s demographics are more representative of early adopters of technology (according to BMI-T), Opera’s dominance seems to line up with MyBroadband’s stats where Opera Mini is the only mobile browser to rank among the big boys.
However, BlackBerry is a far more popular platform in SA than Android and iOS.
This does’t necessarily mean that StatCounter’s results are inaccurate or not representative as it may be possible that BlackBerry and Android users prefer alternative browsers, such as Opera’s.
It is also possible that iPhone and Android users simply browse the web more than BlackBerry users do. However, without knowing StatCounter’s South African mobile browsing demographics it is probably advisable to be skeptical of the exact percentages for now.
Similar to the desktop browser stats, the results from StatCounter’s South African mobile browser usage statistics can be useful for spotting trends. The above graph shows the usage statistics for the various mobile browsers from December 2008 to July 2011.