Web browser market share and rounding errors

In our world of developing web sites, it is always interesting with web browser statistics, and how some people view them. Pair that with a new player in the market and various opinions about its success.

Web browser market share

Let’s start by looking at the current web browser market share, available at Browser Market Share and Browser Version Market Share:

Internet Explorer

That’s generally almost a level playing field, wouldn’t you say? Sure, take away 30% from Internet Explorer and share among the others, but still the trend is going towards a well-balanced web browser market. I guess one reflection is that Opera, after developing web browsers for all these years (and having a very good product!) has a very low market share on the desktop, and I think they need to do something exceptional to change that.

If we break it down per web browser version (with over 1% share), it looks like this:

Internet Explorer 6.0
Internet Explorer 7.0
Internet Explorer 8.0
Firefox 3.5
Firefox 3.0
Safari 4.0
Internet Explorer 8.0 – Compatibility Mode
Chrome 2.0
Opera 9.x
Firefox 2.0
Chrome 3.0

Here, there are a lot of interesting conclusions we can draw. First and foremost, IE 6 is still the most used web browser in the world – to me, this is terrifying, and saddening that we’re still suffering from that era. Interesting to see how many users who have upgraded to Firefox 3.5, although I thought it would be more in comparison to version 3.0. Also noteworthy that the Compatibility Mode in IE 8 are used by more people than all Opera users together, and almost as many as all Google Chrome users. Also, given Google Chrome’s aggressive upgrading strategy, I thought there would be more people with the latest version.

Looking at Top Browser Share Trend, we can see that Firefox 3.5 and IE 8 are the web browsers with the most upgoing trend at the moment.

Ballmer: Chrome and Safari are rounding errors

In a recent interview, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated that Chrome And Safari Are Rounding Errors. And yes, sure, I know he has to act like that. Or, correction, he believes he has to act like that to bring confidence to Microsoft fans. However, in my world, it gives the opposite message: if you are downplaying competitors share, as opposed to bringing forth why your own product is so special, it’s a sign of fear and uncertainty (and don’t ask me where he gets the statistics of having 74% of the market, where most studies show around 65%).

Is Google Chrome a success or not?

But, one thing is interesting there in Ballmer’s statement, and also in the very varying opinions I hear from people about Google Chrome. It has been in the (Windows) market for a little over a year now, and it has a little bit over 3% of the web browser market.

Some people claim it’s an amazing feat in just one year to get 3% of the market, while others see it as a failure with all Google’s brand and marketing power; that they instead should have had something like 10% by now to have succeeded. Some people claim that Google Chrome OS is a, more or less, desperate measure to put even more focus on the web browser, to make more people use Google Chrome.

So, what do you think: is Google Chrome a success or a failure? Or perhaps in between? And do you have any thoughts on web browser market share of today?


  • w.r.t. Chrome – the difference in versioning is which channel the user is on. If you are on Beta, you get 3 (now 4, I think), GA you get 2 (and maybe not that is 3). I think this probably is revealing of how many people use Chrome because they are interested in the project (the Beta users – the thing was released as a Beta and captured 1% of the market) versus those who use it because it came bundled with RealPlayer, DivX, or clicked on (one of the many) adverts for Chrome.

  • Florent V. says:

    One interesting regarding IE and particularly IE6 market share is that Net Applications’ own data was really different a few months ago. They used to give IE6 as the fourth browser on the market, just behind IE7, Firefox3, and IE8 (which had just passed IE6 in their stats, early summer 2009). Then they made a statistical change, and bam, IE6 went from a 12% market share to a 26% one.

    (I’m not exactly sure about those numbers, since the old numbers are not on their website anymore.)

    So what happened this summer?

    Simple: they didn’t weigh their data per country. Their data comes from their customers (as for AT Internet Institute/Xiti Monitor in Europe), and they have way more customers in the US and Europe than in developing countries, India and China, and maybe Japan too.

    So they changed their method and started to weigh their results per country (not sure if they use population for this, or number of Internet users). And it looks like countries like India and China that were under-represented in their stats use IE6 AN AWFUL LOT. I guess they have lots of hacked Windows XP. πŸ™‚

    Japan is also know for the Microsoft hegemony there on the desktop. Almost everyone uses IE there.

    So Net Applications’ new stats say there is a lot of IE6 in the world, but when your market is the US or Europe, there’s quite a bit less IE6 around.

    Net Applications have per-country data, but it’s not free and i personally can’t afford it. And i’ve seen no article surfacing with per-country or even per-continent data from Net Applications. Perhaps their license prohibits publishing a report or article with those numbers.

    Ideally, we would have numbers from big web players such as Yahoo! (they have their own web analytics solution), Google (Google Analytics is everywhere!). Correct me if i’m wrong, but we don’t, and the only precise data on the market is not openly available.

    For Europe, the latest numbers we have is from AT Internet Institute (former Xiti Monitor), and dates back to January 2009. IE was at 58%, Firefox at 32%, Opera at 4%. From those numbers and a few others, it seems IE6 was around 18-19% at the time. Slow IE6 decay plus the launch of IE8, which took market share from IE7 mostly, except for businesses that upgraded to IE latest-1, i.e. from IE6 to IE7… means that an estimated IE6 market share between 10 and 14% is plausible for Europe. With important differences between countries.

    We REALLY have very little information on this issue. πŸ™

  • Andreas says:

    Doesnt chrome auto upgrade it self? Wierd there's twice as many 2.0 users as 3.0 users.

  • Jean-Philippe Martin says:

    Chrome, even at 4.0, is not the polished and customizable version that Firefox 3.5 is with all its themes and extensions that are constantly upgraded by the user community. The extension mechanism of Chrome is not even finished yet !! I don't really understand why Google is so sloppy in this regard but I think that Chrome is aimed at a segment of the market which are the geek/techno style users. With adsweep though ads can be blocked .

  • David Naylor says:

    What was Firefox's market share after one year, i e in November 2005?

  • nemeseri says:

    StatCounter? Maybe?

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Great input! I think that pretty much describes the, currently, very strong interest from developers but, at the same time, low interest from "regular" users.


    That is an excellent comment!

    The way I see it, as trying to bring awareness to people about choice, open alternatives etc, I find it very interesting what the global web market share is. And as a developer, the web site I'm currently working on has visitors from about 100 different countries, so it matters to me professionally as well.

    But, with that said, in essence for most web sites it it mostly important what the user base is in your country or your part of the world. An interesting input on various sources here is expressed by the Mozilla Metrics Team in What is Firefox’s Market Share?.

    Basically, the ones they refer to are:


    – Net Applications (as mentioned in the blog post)


    AT Internet Institute (as you mentioned in your comment)

    Hope that helps a little more at least!


    It does, bu as Patrick mentioned, it could also be depending on what channel you are.


    Absolutely, I think from a UI, extensions, accessibility support etc point of view, Firefox is a much better choice for most users. The think Google Chrome has going for it is very good performance, but I know the Mozilla people are working hard on improving that in Firefox.


    Good question! What I could find was that Firefox had a little over 10% of the market in April in 2005. And that's during Firefox's first year, but in all fairness, people used Phoenix and Firebird before that, so it's not a completely equal comparison.


    Absolutely, StatCounter is a good complement!

  • RobertdM says:

    Chrome proves how difficult it is to secure a place in the browsermarket. There a still so many users who just don't know or care about what a browser is, let alone if the one they are using is any good or not.

    I think Chrome has such a hard time because the browsermarket today is a very aware and competitive one. All players are actively devellopping their browsers (including Microsoft) making it very hard to come up with just that little extra which is gonna make users want to switch.

    Firefox was able to enlarge its marketshare because at the time MS wasn't doing anything with IE6 devellopement anymore and they could offer significant benefits over IE6 to users (security, tabs, etc..). This momentum is long gone, so any new players are gonna have a much harder time to get in.

    Opera for instance wasn't able to profit from MS not investing in IE6 devellopement because by the time they made their browser advert free, firefox had already taken off. They responded too late.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Good analysis! Yes, it's definitely a different time now. and Firefox came in under ideal circumstances to gain that important momentum.

  • Florent V. says:

    I didn't know StatCounter had public reports. Well, some of the lines or their charts are a bit strange (the results for France are really surprising, my guess is they don't have much data for that country). But data for the whole of Europe or the United States seems decent. By the way, for those two regions they have IE6 at 8%.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Yes, in the case of StatCounter, I think it's just based on people using their service, which might give a skewed perspective. However, just as the Mozilla Metrics Team approach, I think the important thing is to balance all these with each other, and try to find some common denominators.

  • Rizo says:

    Scary how high percentage IE6 has…. when will the madness stop?

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Yep, definitely scary!

  • <a href="http://www.csun.edu” target=”_blank”>www.csun.edu
    Oct 12, 2009 – Nov 13, 2009

    <cite>505,052 unique visitors

    Internet Explorer 52.00%

    Firefox 23.84%

    Safari 20.88%

    Chrome 2.59%

    Mozilla 0.19%

    Opera 0.17</cite>

    Data from Google Analytics

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Thanks for sharing your stats!

    Quite a high number of Safari users there!

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