File Under: Browsers

Internet Explorer Isn’t Dead. And Wow, Look at China

Web analytics firm StatCounter is reporting that Internet Explorer dipped below 50 percent in worldwide browser market share in September for the first time since the browser wars of a decade ago. The firm also notes that Chrome is now at 11.5 percent.

But have a look at Net Marketshare Hitslink, which shows IE still commands 60 percent worldwide. Net Marketshare also puts Chrome at just under eight percent, a notch above where it was in August.

At the beginning of each month, a new crop of browser market share stats are released. It’s the same three or four big firms that report the data, and each has its own methodology.

The numbers vary widely depending on who’s reporting them, and the results tend to get spun harder than the Sprewells on my Bugatti Veyron. Browser vendors, tech journalists, and SEO experts toss these numbers around as definitive proof that one browser is choking on its own vomit while another is going to take over the world and eat your children.

Of course, I would never say any of this data is bunk — each firm does solid work — but you should always look at all the reports and study their findings as a group.

That’s why my favorite chart is the one on Wikipedia, which collects the median values from the five biggest stats reporting firms and presents the broadest view (Note the current chart hasn’t been updated with September’s data).

The big takeaways from the latest numbers: Firefox is holding relatively steady and Chrome has officially become a Big Deal. But half of the worldwide browser share is a massive chunk, and IE is still a huge force, especially in the U.S. Its influence is certainly eroding worldwide, no doubt thanks to the EU ruling that Microsoft begin presenting a browser choice screen to Windows users in March, 2010.

The most important browser share stats to pay attention to are the ones that show usage on your own site. You should be running Omniture or Google Analytics or some other tracking app to study which browsers are hitting your site, then adjusting your own development strategy accordingly.

There’s some interesting stuff buried in these new reports.

Chrome is nimble

Chrome auto-updates on most people’s machines, and look at how efficiently Google was able to move its browser customers from version 5 to version 6 when it updated in early September. A chart from Net Marketshare:

IE6 is still huge in China

And check this out. Here’s StatCounter’s data filtered to show which versions of each browser are being used in China. IE6 still holds an astonishing 60 percent share. Talk about a big red flag.

Blackboard photo by Marvin (PA)/Flickr/CC

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