Chrome Overtakes IE To Become World’s Most Popular Browser

According to the latest StatCounter figures for May, Google Chrome has just overtaken Internet Explorer to become the world’s most popular web browser.

To get an idea of how quickly Chrome usage is growing – it was only in December that I noted Chrome had just overtaken Firefox to take second place.

I had wondered whether the discontinuation of support for the old Firefox 3.6+ would have a serious impact on Firefox market share – if users decided to switch to another browser instead of upgrading to Firefox 11+.

Thankfully for Mozilla that does not appear to have been the case and figures for Firefox after the transition in April have remained stable. It is a further decrease in Internet Explorer usage that has allowed Chrome to take pole position.

Worldwide Browser Market Share – May 2012

Per StatCounter figures, the total global market share for the main web browsers over the last 2 weeks compared to 6 months ago (all versions of each browser) is:

Nov 2011 %May 2012 %% Change
Chrome

25.68

32.52

6.84

IE

40.63

32.12

-8.51

Firefox

25.24

25.48

0.24

Safari

5.90

7.12

1.22

Opera

1.84

1.75

-0.09

Others

0.71

1.01

0.3

 

Key Points

Chrome has picked up most of the lost IE users, increasing its share over the last 6 months by nearly 7% to become the world’s most popular web browser, just.

However, Chrome is not guaranteed of continued future growth. It has its own problems e.g. some users still suffer from Flash Player crashes and the new Chrome 19 seriously annoyed a lot of people by removing the home page on startup.

IE usage has continued to plummet, losing over 8% in 6 months. Microsoft’s traditional dominance of the web browser market has come to an end, although its ubiquity in businesses may help it avoid the ignominy of dropping further into third place.

Firefox – Mozilla will be pleased that the discontinuation of support for Firefox 3.6 in April has not impacted market share. This suggests that most 3.6 users did finally upgrade to FF 11 rather than switch to a different browser.

Safari market share has grown – primarily due to the increasing market share of Apple’s iPad in the tablet market. The new iPad released in March has certainly been a factor.

Opera has remained fairly static.

Conclusion

Chrome has grown to take first place at the expense of IE. Firefox, Safari and Opera continue to hold their own respective market shares in 3rd, 4th and 5th place respectively.

Microsoft’s philosophy of only updating IE every couple of years suits businesses looking for tried and tested stability but it is increasingly outdated compared to the rapid release cycles of other browsers. IE10 promises some improvements later this year but the lack of constant innovation may mean it is too little too late.

Splitting IE10 into two fundamentally different browsers depending on the interface (Metro or desktop) is likely to lead to even more dissatisfaction amongst casual users.