Collectively, five browsers dominate the web, accounting for 98 percent of all traffic as measured by the latest U.S. Government Digital Analytics Program. (For a discussion of where that data comes from, see the note at the end of this earlier post.)
The trouble with those aggregate numbers is they mash together visits from sites running mobile and desktop operating systems, where the choice of browsers varies greatly. That’s why I was thrilled to see that the good folks at DAP released some new crosstab options this week.
Those new data formats now make it possible to measure browser usage in detail on individual platforms.
For this analysis, I used traffic from May 1, 2016 through June 17, 2016, breaking the results out across Android, iOS, Windows, and OS X. The results are eye-opening. Two overall conclusions are worth highlighting before diving into the details.
First, as open platforms, desktop operating systems have historically encouraged the development of alternative browsers and made it easy to switch. As a result, somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of all PC and Mac users choose a browser other than the default option. Among mobile operating systems, however, changing defaults is much more difficult (and nearly impossible on iOS). That explains the dominance of Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari.
Second, independent browsers are rapidly nearing extinction. A mere seven years ago, Mozilla’s Firefox was a force to be reckoned with. In 2016, its usage is approaching single-digit percentages, with Chrome now crushing it as the preferred non-default browser on desktop platforms. In addition, Firefox Mobile has had little or no success and is a statistical blip on mobile devices.