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Browser Wars: Internet Explorer Falls, Firefox Tables, and Chrome Soars

web browser articlesPreparing to teach the HTML Fundamentals class at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, this summer, I did a quick bit of research on web browsers to check the current status of the browser marketplace. While not surprised, I was rather taken aback at the downfall of Internet Explorer and fast rise of Chrome.

According to StatCounter, from July 2008 to May 2012, while Firefox and Opera have mostly plateaued, Internet Explorer usage has dropped significantly on a steady downhill slope. Chrome has countered it with a steep incline since its release at the end of 2008. According to Wikipedia, Chrome now represents 33% worldwide share of the browser market, closely followed by Internet Explorer and Firefox, leaving the rest in the dust.

Chrome was originally released for Windows only. In 2009 a Mac OS X version was released along with a Linux version. In May 2010, Google released a stable platform for all three operating systems, and the green line on the chart started moving up the mountain to attack its two biggest rivals.

browser stats chart global statcounter

Firefox logoFirefox suffered greatly in 2010 from problems with Adobe Flash causing the browser to crash multiple times a day. It inspired them to create powerful prevention and protection systems to stop crashes due to poorly scripted add-ons and invalid or nasty design elements like Flash. Their faster development release path continues to make it a serious contender in the browser wars. Firefox currently represents 25% of the worldwide market, though 44-67% of the market in Indonesia, Germany, and Poland.

Web designers, developers, WordPress Theme designers and Plugin developers, and expert web users tend to make Firefox their default browser, though Chrome is becoming a solid choice. The wide range of Firefox add-ons for web page testing and development still outweigh Chrome’s options.

Don’t underestimate Mozilla’s ability to turn themselves around. There is a new version of Firefox called Firefox Aurora, which they call the “future of the web browser.” It is designed currently for desktop and Android mobile use and embraces all the latest in HTM5 and CSS3 and other experimental web technologies. It hosts a new interface that resembles previous Firefox interfaces with a nod to Chrome-styles of minimalism. If you like living on the cutting edge of web browsing, get Aurora and give them the feedback they need to make it even better.

Epic Browser for IndiaIn another interesting Mozilla twist in marketing, the Epic web browser by Hidden Reflex, made especially to support the diverse culture and languages of India, is run on the back of the open source code of Firefox. It features India flavored skins and Themes, support for 12 different Indian languages, virus and security protection, television viewing, over 1,500 applications from news to games to social media interaction, a word processor (with multiple language support), to do list tool, snippet app, timer, file manager, and much more. It is currently available for Windows only. While I couldn’t find a global market share for Epic, it’s a great example of how a web browser can be customized for a specific audience.

Safari and Opera for Mac have had an interesting time finding a grip in the browser market. Like Internet Explorer coming with the Windows operating system, Safari is Mac’s “default” browser. While Safari usage has grown slightly, especially with the increase in Mac sales since 2009, it represents under 10% of the global market compared to Opera at under 3% worldwide. This stat may change over the next few years as mobile adoption increases.

Firefox for AndroidAs of May 2012, Internet access with mobile browsers globally is just over 10%. With the growing sales of iPhones and iPads, Safari and Opera are becoming preferred mobile browsers for many countries worldwide dependent upon mobile access to the web. For the Android market, Firefox and Dolphin Browser are in the top of the global mobile browser market share.

Today, Chrome Android came out of beta and is being fired up on Android phones and devices around the world. First reports are that it is as fast as the desktop version and compares well against Firefox for Android.

For those living in the web design and development world, Amaya continues to rock as a simple and easy to use web browser and web editor. Started by the W3C in 1996, it continues to represent the most popular web standards. The last release in January 2012 didn’t bring HTML5 or CSS3 into the core, but don’t underestimate this browser for testing web pages.

Other browsers I consider essential for testing web pages and WordPress Themes include Lynx (for the text and simple view of a web page), Konqueror, the one stop do it all file manager/FTP Client/browser/text editor/SVN client/PDF viewer/etc. Is there anything that browser can’t do?

While these numbers are estimates in many ways, most web designers and developers find the stats fairly representative of their own website stats and analytics, skewed towards the audience’s expertise on the web. Highly technical and technology specific content sites attract users with state-of-the-art browsers, while others may note that some of their users are still using Internet Explorer 6, one of the death traps in browsers left on the web. If you are one of them, please upgrade immediately for your own safety.

In general, I find that web users tend to ignore their browser, yet it is the most important tool in their arsenal when it comes to hitting the web. It is your gateway, the translator of HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, ASP.NET, and all the code that runs the web. Trust me, with the right web browser, your web experience can be completely enhanced, fast, and efficient. With the wrong browser, you are still driving an AMC Pacer.

If you wish to dig back into the archives of “browsers we have known or glimpsed in passing,” check out Evolt’s Browser Archive List. You supply the handkerchief.

Web Browsers Currently Kicking


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

8 Comments

  1. Posted June 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Nice piece of research

  2. Posted June 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I am a web designer and I prefer Firefox, but sometimes I find it very slow to respond. Maybe it just seems that way after I use Chrome. I certainly love the speed of Google Chrome but it is not yet supported by all applications on the web. I have not used IE in years.

    • Posted June 28, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      While l love Chrome’s speed, you are right that Chrome lacks a lot if the power features necessary for power blogging and development. There was a dramatic time difference going from Firefox to Chrome which belied the benefits of speed. It took me 45 minutes to so a blog post that took 10 in Firefox. Speed only gets you so far when efficiency wins.

    • Nick
      Posted June 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      I hear the new nightly builds of Firefox are much faster. I would love to give it a try again if it worked better.

    • Posted June 29, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      @Nick: Interesting assumption. You’ve heard that the bleeding edge versions are faster, but assume the stable versions don’t work. I had that attitude for a few months after hearing similar news a year ago. I came back to Firefox cautiously, running Chrome and Firefox simultaneously. When I found out that it didn’t crash and my work process sped up by a couple hundred percent, I can’t remember the last time I had to open Chrome except for testing. Chrome is great, but it doesn’t have the features I demand from a solid and powerful browser. Firefox does.

      Consider giving it a try again.

  3. Nick
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Great information! Chrome is what I use!

  4. Rohit
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    i personally prefer chrome for my daily use but i think chrome still don’t match Firefox as far as extensions are concerned.

  5. colin burnett
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I don’t mind Opera….. chrome is nice but yeh….Opera is a personal Favourite :)


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  1. [...] Firefox plateauing in the browser wars, being throttled by the fast rise of Chrome, it must jump to stay relevant. This release makes it [...]

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