Browser Trends October 2016: Microsoft Edges Downward

Microsoft Edge

In September, we discussed whether the browser wars are over. October’s StatCounter browser statistics provide further evidence for a slow-down …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, August to September 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.

Browser August September change relative
Chrome 58.44% 58.89% +0.45% +0.80%
Firefox 13.96% 13.66% -0.30% -2.10%
IE11 7.52% 7.68% +0.16% +2.10%
oldIE 2.30% 2.13% -0.17% -7.40%
Edge 2.88% 2.78% -0.10% -3.50%
Safari 4.23% 4.30% +0.07% +1.70%
iPad Safari 5.38% 5.30% -0.08% -1.50%
Opera 1.76% 1.72% -0.04% -2.30%
Others 3.53% 3.54% +0.01% +0.30%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, September 2015 to September 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser September 2015 September 2016 change relative
Chrome 53.24% 58.89% +5.65% +10.60%
Firefox 15.87% 13.66% -2.21% -13.90%
IE11 9.88% 7.68% -2.20% -22.30%
oldIE 5.83% 2.13% -3.70% -63.50%
Edge 0.96% 2.78% +1.82% +189.60%
Safari 9.14% 9.60% +0.46% +5.00%
Opera 1.76% 1.72% -0.04% -2.30%
Others 3.32% 3.54% +0.22% +6.60%

(The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. 7.4% of oldIE users migrated elsewhere last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

It’s another month of minimal movement in the charts. Most browsers fluctuated in their normal direction, i.e. Chrome grew at the expense of others. There was a small increase for IE11, but I suspect a statistical blip rather than a resurgence.

Microsoft Edge logoThe most surprising fall was Microsoft Edge. “Fall” is a little over-dramatic — “wobble” may be more appropriate — but it’s the first time the browser has dropped. Currently, usage is similar to oldIE, and around a third of IE11’s.

Edge has been with us for more than a year, but is yet to make a significant impact on the chart. The browser evolved from IE, but the Trident engine was radically overhauled. The result has been positive:

  • the interface is simple and attractive
  • Edge starts and runs as fast — if not faster — than competing browsers
  • the browser integrates well with Windows 10
  • it offers some novel features, such as Web Notes, to annotate and share pages
  • the Developer Tools are similar to those available elsewhere
  • HTML5 support is good. Edge has fewer cutting-edge features, but you’re unlikely to miss many.
  • extensions were added in the Windows 10 Anniversary update. These are mostly advertising blockers, shopping and service assistants, but more will come.

Windows still accounts for at least 80% of the desktop OS market and has a higher percentage in the business world. So why has Edge’s adoption remained comparatively low?

Legacy OS Support

Edge is only available on Windows 10. The launch was reasonably successful and, after a year, almost 25% of desktop users run the OS. However, Windows 7 still accounts for almost 40% of the market and is likely to remain high for several years. Microsoft will not release Edge for older editions of the OS, but they will eventually be upgraded or disappear as hardware breaks down.

Other vendors have no problem supporting older versions of Windows. Chrome could be installed on the 15-year-old Windows XP until April 2016. Admittedly, Microsoft has a more complex task since they must ensure backward compatibility across their whole product range. For example, they could have difficulty updating a web component which was required in Office or Visual Studio. The legacy OS problem will continue unless Microsoft can separate Windows and browser development.

Mobile Support

Users work on multiple devices: they expect tabs and bookmarks to be synchronized across their desktops, phones and tablets. Chrome is the obvious choice for Android users, and Safari is the only real browser on iOS. Third-party mobile browsers such as Firefox retain a niche appeal.

Microsoft abandoned the mobile market and never produced a browser for Android. There are rumors of a Surface smartphone, but Edge will continue to struggle against cross-platform options.

That Blue ‘e’ Icon

When Edge was announced, I thought that keeping the blue ‘e’ icon was a good idea, since existing IE users would recognize it. There’s a downside: many users think IE is awful. The browser radically improved from version 9, but mud sticks, and developers continued to berate the application. Users who have never heard of Edge think the blue ‘e’ icon is IE.

Perhaps it’s time to have a completely clean break from IE’s past?

Users are Increasingly Browser-Aware

Few users knew what a browser was a decade ago. Most retained their OS default, and this helped IE’s usage figures remain high (even some EU intervention had a negligible impact).

Google’s Chrome marketing push helped change perceptions. Users still may not know or care about differences between applications, but they’re regularly advised to switch to Chrome while browsing the web.

IE6 usage also remained artificially while businesses relied on legacy web/intranet applications which targeted the browser. They were written in the early 2000s when few other competitors existed. Those systems have been retired or upgraded, leaving IT departments free to impose whichever browser they choose.

Microsoft can no longer rely on Windows to push browser adoption. Stronger marketing could help, especially if users can be persuaded that Edge:

  • is a modern browser unshackled from IE
  • does not collate or retain your browsing activities
  • is as fast and uses fewer resources than competitors.

Perhaps Microsoft is not concerned about Edge’s adoption? We demanded a better browser, Windows needed one and Edge is more than capable. It’s just a shame few people will use Edge for anything more than downloading Chrome.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, August to September 2016

Mobile browser use regained August’s drop and increased by 0.87% during September. It now accounts for 47.18% of all web activity. The historical chart illustrates how agonizingly close desktop and mobile usage has become over the past few years.

The top mobile browsing applications for the month were:

Mobile Browser August September change relative
Chrome 39.02% 39.09% +0.07% +0.20%
iPhone 18.77% 17.90% -0.87% -4.60%
UC Browser 14.28% 17.04% +2.76% +19.30%
Opera Mini/Mobile 10.91% 9.77% -1.14% -10.40%
Samsung Internet 6.95% 6.86% -0.09% -1.30%
Android 6.81% 6.33% -0.48% -7.00%
IEMobile 1.38% 1.26% -0.12% -8.70%
Others 1.88% 1.75% -0.13% -6.90%

Like the desktop chart, there’s no significant change other than a 20% increase in UC Browser users. StatCounter adjusted the browser’s figures recently, owing to pre-rendering and other caching activities, so I suspect this is a similar anomaly.

See you next month.

Browser Trends September 2016: Are the Browser Wars Over?

Are the browser wars over?

In August we discussed a few of Chrome’s rivals. Did it encourage you to try another browser? The latest StatCounter browser statistics provide the facts …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, July to August 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.

Browser July August change relative
Chrome 58.40% 58.44% +0.04% +0.10%
Firefox 13.96% 13.96% +0.00% +0.00%
IE11 7.38% 7.52% +0.14% +1.90%
oldIE 2.38% 2.30% -0.08% -3.40%
Edge 2.79% 2.88% +0.09% +3.20%
Safari 4.15% 4.23% +0.08% +1.90%
iPad Safari 5.60% 5.38% -0.22% -3.90%
Opera 1.75% 1.76% +0.01% +0.60%
Others 3.59% 3.53% -0.06% -1.70%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, August 2015 to August 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser August 2015 August 2016 change relative
Chrome 52.97% 58.44% +5.47% +10.30%
Firefox 15.60% 13.96% -1.64% -10.50%
IE11 9.94% 7.52% -2.42% -24.30%
oldIE 6.05% 2.30% -3.75% -62.00%
Edge 0.74% 2.88% +2.14% +289.20%
Safari 9.30% 9.61% +0.31% +3.30%
Opera 1.79% 1.76% -0.03% -1.70%
Others 3.61% 3.53% -0.08% -2.20%

(The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. Edge’s user base grew 3.2% last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

The middle of the year rarely provides big browser news given vacations and the lack of big OS and software releases. However, I do not recall a month when less happened! There was barely any movement in the charts.

Even the twelve-month figures have begun to stabilize. Chrome gained almost 5.5% and Edge usage has grown since its release this time last year. Unsurprisingly, oldIE usage has more than halved but the other browsers are mostly static.

Have the browser wars ended?

Browser War I

The first and most bloody browser war raged between Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator between 1996 and 2001. The web was new and the applications evolved rapidly from one month to the next. CSS and JavaScript arrived and the browsers competed on innovative features.

Microsoft was fined for questionable business practices, but IE eventually won because it was better. By 2001, IE6 had a seemingly unassailable 95% market share.

Browser War II

Microsoft had a few competitors:

  • Opera. The browser had a passionate following, but few people were willing to pay a $50 license fee when IE and other options were free.
  • The Mozilla Suite. The Gecko rendering engine was a ground-up rewrite of the old Netscape HTML parser, but it was stuck in a slow and bloated set of browser, email, newsgroups, editor, IRC client and address book applications.

An experimental Mozilla browser which adopted Gecko was launched as “Phoenix” in September 2002. The application became an immediate hit with developers who had become frustrated with Microsoft’s complacency. Trademark disputes led to the name being changed to “Firebird” and ultimately “Firefox” in February 2004.

Another skirmish ensued and Microsoft was forced back into the browser market. Firefox eventually gained around one third of the market in 2010 but IE held the dominant top spot.

Browser War III

Google released Chrome in 2008. The name was adopted because Google wanted to minimize the chrome (outer interface) of the browser so users could concentrate on page content. Google stated they were reluctant to create their own application, but it quickly became evident their online commercial clout could beat Microsoft — especially when IE had become an in-joke for all that was wrong in the industry.

Chrome overtook IE in June 2012 and has been there ever since. The other vendors took note and, rather than competing on features, began to simplify and streamline their applications. (Only the recently released Vivaldi is attempting to buck the trend).

In 2016, few people would notice the differences between Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari and Opera. They’re all excellent applications with capable rendering engines. The market has matured and stabilized. New features are more infrequent, but users are happy regardless of their choice.

Like any product, the diminished browser differentiation was inevitable. An application can only survive if it appeals to the masses, so the most successful traits are duplicated while lesser-used features are dropped. Life may be less colorful, but we finally have what we’ve been demanding for twenty years: good cross-browser compatibility.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, July to August 2016

Mobile browser use has been edging closer to 50%, but dropped 0.88% in August, and now accounts for 46.31% of all web activity. The long-term trend is clear and mobile should overtake desktop usage at some point in the next twelve months.

The top mobile browsing applications for the month were:

Mobile Browser July August change relative
Chrome 38.56% 39.02% +0.46% +1.20%
iPhone 18.53% 18.77% +0.24% +1.30%
UC Browser 14.39% 14.28% -0.11% -0.80%
Opera Mini/Mobile 11.22% 10.91% -0.31% -2.80%
Samsung Internet 6.55% 6.95% +0.40% +6.10%
Android 7.29% 6.81% -0.48% -6.60%
IEMobile 1.47% 1.38% -0.09% -6.10%
Others 1.99% 1.88% -0.11% -5.50%

There’s little change other than the stock Android browser falling behind the Samsung Internet browser. Activity often fluctuates more than the desktop market:

  1. The mobile market is younger and innovations continue to occur. Features such as Progressive Web Applications are blurring the line between native and web apps.
  2. Smart-phone vendors can have a significant impact. Users often stick with the default browser, so successful phones rapidly push applications up the chart.

That said, mobile OSs have converged to just Android and iOS. Alternatives such Windows Mobile, Blackberry, webOS, Firefox OS, Symbian and others have all but disappeared. There’s less choice, but the market has streamlined as people rejected the less-popular options.

Perhaps it’s a shame, but I doubt we’ll encounter another significant browser war until the web itself changes dramatically.

Browser Trends September 2016: Are the Browser Wars Over?

Are the browser wars over?

In August we discussed a few of Chrome’s rivals. Did it encourage you to try another browser? The latest StatCounter browser statistics provide the facts …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, July to August 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.

Browser July August change relative
Chrome 58.40% 58.44% +0.04% +0.10%
Firefox 13.96% 13.96% +0.00% +0.00%
IE11 7.38% 7.52% +0.14% +1.90%
oldIE 2.38% 2.30% -0.08% -3.40%
Edge 2.79% 2.88% +0.09% +3.20%
Safari 4.15% 4.23% +0.08% +1.90%
iPad Safari 5.60% 5.38% -0.22% -3.90%
Opera 1.75% 1.76% +0.01% +0.60%
Others 3.59% 3.53% -0.06% -1.70%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, August 2015 to August 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser August 2015 August 2016 change relative
Chrome 52.97% 58.44% +5.47% +10.30%
Firefox 15.60% 13.96% -1.64% -10.50%
IE11 9.94% 7.52% -2.42% -24.30%
oldIE 6.05% 2.30% -3.75% -62.00%
Edge 0.74% 2.88% +2.14% +289.20%
Safari 9.30% 9.61% +0.31% +3.30%
Opera 1.79% 1.76% -0.03% -1.70%
Others 3.61% 3.53% -0.08% -2.20%

(The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. Edge’s user base grew 3.2% last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

The middle of the year rarely provides big browser news given vacations and the lack of big OS and software releases. However, I do not recall a month when less happened! There was barely any movement in the charts.

Even the twelve-month figures have begun to stabilize. Chrome gained almost 5.5% and Edge usage has grown since its release this time last year. Unsurprisingly, oldIE usage has more than halved but the other browsers are mostly static.

Have the browser wars ended?

Browser War I

The first and most bloody browser war raged between Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator between 1996 and 2001. The web was new and the applications evolved rapidly from one month to the next. CSS and JavaScript arrived and the browsers competed on innovative features.

Microsoft was fined for questionable business practices, but IE eventually won because it was better. By 2001, IE6 had a seemingly unassailable 95% market share.

Browser War II

Microsoft had a few competitors:

  • Opera. The browser had a passionate following, but few people were willing to pay a $50 license fee when IE and other options were free.
  • The Mozilla Suite. The Gecko rendering engine was a ground-up rewrite of the old Netscape HTML parser, but it was stuck in a slow and bloated set of browser, email, newsgroups, editor, IRC client and address book applications.

An experimental Mozilla browser which adopted Gecko was launched as “Phoenix” in September 2002. The application became an immediate hit with developers who had become frustrated with Microsoft’s complacency. Trademark disputes led to the name being changed to “Firebird” and ultimately “Firefox” in February 2004.

Another skirmish ensued and Microsoft was forced back into the browser market. Firefox eventually gained around one third of the market in 2010 but IE held the dominant top spot.

Browser War III

Google released Chrome in 2008. The name was adopted because Google wanted to minimize the chrome (outer interface) of the browser so users could concentrate on page content. Google stated they were reluctant to create their own application, but it quickly became evident their online commercial clout could beat Microsoft — especially when IE had become an in-joke for all that was wrong in the industry.

Chrome overtook IE in June 2012 and has been there ever since. The other vendors took note and, rather than competing on features, began to simplify and streamline their applications. (Only the recently released Vivaldi is attempting to buck the trend).

In 2016, few people would notice the differences between Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari and Opera. They’re all excellent applications with capable rendering engines. The market has matured and stabilized. New features are more infrequent, but users are happy regardless of their choice.

Like any product, the diminished browser differentiation was inevitable. An application can only survive if it appeals to the masses, so the most successful traits are duplicated while lesser-used features are dropped. Life may be less colorful, but we finally have what we’ve been demanding for twenty years: good cross-browser compatibility.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, July to August 2016

Mobile browser use has been edging closer to 50%, but dropped 0.88% in August, and now accounts for 46.31% of all web activity. The long-term trend is clear and mobile should overtake desktop usage at some point in the next twelve months.

The top mobile browsing applications for the month were:

Mobile Browser July August change relative
Chrome 38.56% 39.02% +0.46% +1.20%
iPhone 18.53% 18.77% +0.24% +1.30%
UC Browser 14.39% 14.28% -0.11% -0.80%
Opera Mini/Mobile 11.22% 10.91% -0.31% -2.80%
Samsung Internet 6.55% 6.95% +0.40% +6.10%
Android 7.29% 6.81% -0.48% -6.60%
IEMobile 1.47% 1.38% -0.09% -6.10%
Others 1.99% 1.88% -0.11% -5.50%

There’s little change other than the stock Android browser falling behind the Samsung Internet browser. Activity often fluctuates more than the desktop market:

  1. The mobile market is younger and innovations continue to occur. Features such as Progressive Web Applications are blurring the line between native and web apps.
  2. Smart-phone vendors can have a significant impact. Users often stick with the default browser, so successful phones rapidly push applications up the chart.

That said, mobile OSs have converged to just Android and iOS. Alternatives such Windows Mobile, Blackberry, webOS, Firefox OS, Symbian and others have all but disappeared. There’s less choice, but the market has streamlined as people rejected the less-popular options.

Perhaps it’s a shame, but I doubt we’ll encounter another significant browser war until the web itself changes dramatically.

Browser Trends August 2016: How Do Chrome’s Rivals Stack Up?

In July, we discussed the positive — but mostly negative — effects of a Chrome monoculture. Did web users take notice and try another application? The latest StatCounter browser statistics prove otherwise …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, June to July 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.

Browser June July change relative
Chrome 57.99% 58.40% +0.41% +0.70%
Firefox 14.14% 13.96% -0.18% -1.30%
IE11 8.18% 7.38% -0.80% -9.80%
oldIE 2.59% 2.38% -0.21% -8.10%
Edge 2.55% 2.79% +0.24% +9.40%
Safari 4.28% 4.15% -0.13% -3.00%
iPad Safari 5.33% 5.60% +0.27% +5.10%
Opera 1.68% 1.75% +0.07% +4.20%
Others 3.26% 3.59% +0.33% +10.10%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, July 2015 to July 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser July 2015 July 2016 change relative
Chrome 51.89% 58.40% +6.51% +12.50%
Firefox 15.68% 13.96% -1.72% -11.00%
IE11 10.84% 7.38% -3.46% -31.90%
oldIE 6.34% 2.38% -3.96% -62.50%
Safari 9.74% 9.75% +0.01% +0.10%
Opera 1.81% 1.75% -0.06% -3.30%
Others 3.70% 6.38% +2.68% +72.40%

(The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. Edge’s user base grew 9.4% last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

For the past year, it’s been much the same story: Chrome grows at the same rate Internet Explorer falls. The proportion of Firefox, Safari and Opera users has remained fairly static. No other browser has managed to make an impact on the market.

It’s evident that users like Chrome — but are there alternatives you should consider? Firefox and Safari are the obvious options, but don’t discount other competitors.

Opera Browser for Developers logoFew users were pleased when Opera dropped Presto, adopted Chromium’s Blink engine and released Opera 15 in May 2013. Its numerous features were radically stripped back to become Chrome-lite.

Much has happened during the past two years. The browser now supports:

  • a built-in ad blocker
  • the old turbo mode, which minimizes bandwidth and speeds up browsing by compressing page assets via a proxy server before they reach you
  • a Virtual Private Network for secure browsing (currently available in the beta and developer editions)
  • improved memory management, which more than halves Chrome’s bloated requirements
  • a new video pop-out feature, which allows you to move videos out of the browser to your desktop while you do other work (in Opera 38 with further enhancements in v39).

Opera is a fine choice if you want a browser which is similar to Chrome but starts faster, runs quicker, feels slicker and respects privacy. But …

Opera’s browser business has been sold to a Chinese consortium led by Qihoo 360 for $600 million. The deal is yet to be approved by regulators, and there’s unlikely to be any immediate changes, but the browser’s future direction is less certain.

Microsoft Edge browser logoDespite the ridicule received by Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge is a fine browser:

  • Edge looks great, launches faster and runs quicker than most competitors
  • it offers some novel features, such as the reading list and web note which lets you annotate and share pages
  • extensions will be available in the August 2, 2016 update
  • it integrates well with Windows, including Cortana’s speech-based assistant and the Start menu.

The downsides? Edge is only available in Windows 10 and some developer tools are a little less polished than others.

I use Edge frequently and it’s become my default PDF viewer! Try it.

Vivaldi browser logoWe’ve discussed Vivaldi several times. In summary, Vivaldi also uses the Blink engine and offers a highly-customizable browsing experience which is ideal for power users. It’s probably what Opera 15 should have been.

Vivaldi is growing steadily with a 0.02% market share — or one in every 5,000 web users. The browser will shortly offer a built-in news reader and email client.

Brave is another Blink-based browser. Development is overseen by Brendan Eich — the father of JavaScript. (Read SitePoint’s interview with Brendan about Brave.) Brave’s purpose is to block harmful advertising and tracking while still supporting website publishers. I’m yet to be convinced this noble aim will be effective, but we’ll know more when the final release arrives.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, June to July 2016

Desktop vs mobile has been swinging wildly and, following June’s 2% drop, mobile usage jumped 3.3% and now accounts for 47.19% of all web activity. If that happens again, mobile will overtake desktop in September 2016.

The top mobile browsing applications for the month were:

Mobile Browser June July change relative
Chrome 38.23% 38.56% +0.33% +0.90%
iPhone 18.95% 18.53% -0.42% -2.20%
UC Browser 14.24% 14.39% +0.15% +1.10%
Opera Mini/Mobile 10.77% 11.22% +0.45% +4.20%
Android 7.83% 7.29% -0.54% -6.90%
Samsung Internet 6.30% 6.55% +0.25% +4.00%
IEMobile 1.61% 1.47% -0.14% -8.70%
Others 2.07% 1.99% -0.08% -3.90%

The largest increase was for Opera Mobile (Android) and the old feature-phone edition of Opera Mini (although you can also get it on Android and iOS). I doubt there’s any significant reason — unless billions of Chinese suddenly discovered a good reason to switch?


If you’d like to get to know Craig a little better, and learn some of the background to this Browser Trends series, listen to the interview with Craig on SitePoint’s Versioning Show podcast.

Browser Trends August 2016: How Do Chrome’s Rivals Stack Up?

In July, we discussed the positive — but mostly negative — effects of a Chrome monoculture. Did web users take notice and try another application? The latest StatCounter browser statistics prove otherwise …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, June to July 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month.

Browser June July change relative
Chrome 57.99% 58.40% +0.41% +0.70%
Firefox 14.14% 13.96% -0.18% -1.30%
IE11 8.18% 7.38% -0.80% -9.80%
oldIE 2.59% 2.38% -0.21% -8.10%
Edge 2.55% 2.79% +0.24% +9.40%
Safari 4.28% 4.15% -0.13% -3.00%
iPad Safari 5.33% 5.60% +0.27% +5.10%
Opera 1.68% 1.75% +0.07% +4.20%
Others 3.26% 3.59% +0.33% +10.10%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, July 2015 to July 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser July 2015 July 2016 change relative
Chrome 51.89% 58.40% +6.51% +12.50%
Firefox 15.68% 13.96% -1.72% -11.00%
IE11 10.84% 7.38% -3.46% -31.90%
oldIE 6.34% 2.38% -3.96% -62.50%
Safari 9.74% 9.75% +0.01% +0.10%
Opera 1.81% 1.75% -0.06% -3.30%
Others 3.70% 6.38% +2.68% +72.40%

(The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. Edge’s user base grew 9.4% last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

For the past year, it’s been much the same story: Chrome grows at the same rate Internet Explorer falls. The proportion of Firefox, Safari and Opera users has remained fairly static. No other browser has managed to make an impact on the market.

It’s evident that users like Chrome — but are there alternatives you should consider? Firefox and Safari are the obvious options, but don’t discount other competitors.

Opera Browser for Developers logoFew users were pleased when Opera dropped Presto, adopted Chromium’s Blink engine and released Opera 15 in May 2013. Its numerous features were radically stripped back to become Chrome-lite.

Much has happened during the past two years. The browser now supports:

  • a built-in ad blocker
  • the old turbo mode, which minimizes bandwidth and speeds up browsing by compressing page assets via a proxy server before they reach you
  • a Virtual Private Network for secure browsing (currently available in the beta and developer editions)
  • improved memory management, which more than halves Chrome’s bloated requirements
  • a new video pop-out feature, which allows you to move videos out of the browser to your desktop while you do other work (in Opera 38 with further enhancements in v39).

Opera is a fine choice if you want a browser which is similar to Chrome but starts faster, runs quicker, feels slicker and respects privacy. But …

Opera’s browser business has been sold to a Chinese consortium led by Qihoo 360 for $600 million. The deal is yet to be approved by regulators, and there’s unlikely to be any immediate changes, but the browser’s future direction is less certain.

Microsoft Edge browser logoDespite the ridicule received by Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge is a fine browser:

  • Edge looks great, launches faster and runs quicker than most competitors
  • it offers some novel features, such as the reading list and web note which lets you annotate and share pages
  • extensions will be available in the August 2, 2016 update
  • it integrates well with Windows, including Cortana’s speech-based assistant and the Start menu.

The downsides? Edge is only available in Windows 10 and some developer tools are a little less polished than others.

I use Edge frequently and it’s become my default PDF viewer! Try it.

Vivaldi browser logoWe’ve discussed Vivaldi several times. In summary, Vivaldi also uses the Blink engine and offers a highly-customizable browsing experience which is ideal for power users. It’s probably what Opera 15 should have been.

Vivaldi is growing steadily with a 0.02% market share — or one in every 5,000 web users. The browser will shortly offer a built-in news reader and email client.

Brave is another Blink-based browser. Development is overseen by Brendan Eich — the father of JavaScript. (Read SitePoint’s interview with Brendan about Brave.) Brave’s purpose is to block harmful advertising and tracking while still supporting website publishers. I’m yet to be convinced this noble aim will be effective, but we’ll know more when the final release arrives.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, June to July 2016

Desktop vs mobile has been swinging wildly and, following June’s 2% drop, mobile usage jumped 3.3% and now accounts for 47.19% of all web activity. If that happens again, mobile will overtake desktop in September 2016.

The top mobile browsing applications for the month were:

Mobile Browser June July change relative
Chrome 38.23% 38.56% +0.33% +0.90%
iPhone 18.95% 18.53% -0.42% -2.20%
UC Browser 14.24% 14.39% +0.15% +1.10%
Opera Mini/Mobile 10.77% 11.22% +0.45% +4.20%
Android 7.83% 7.29% -0.54% -6.90%
Samsung Internet 6.30% 6.55% +0.25% +4.00%
IEMobile 1.61% 1.47% -0.14% -8.70%
Others 2.07% 1.99% -0.08% -3.90%

The largest increase was for Opera Mobile (Android) and the old feature-phone edition of Opera Mini (although you can also get it on Android and iOS). I doubt there’s any significant reason — unless billions of Chinese suddenly discovered a good reason to switch?


If you’d like to get to know Craig a little better, and learn some of the background to this Browser Trends series, listen to the interview with Craig on SitePoint’s Versioning Show podcast.