Using the visitor trending data collected and shared by StatCounter, I have undertaken a general analysis of browser distribution by global region. These metrics are collected using the embedded tags that StatCounter customers embed on their site to collect visitor metrics for their own use.
US data shows that MSIE 7.0 is in a dominant position, with Firefox 3.0 in the 25% range of market share. This trend extends into the North American data, which is heavily influenced by the US trend.
MSIE 8.0, still reports a lower distribution than Firefox 2.0. This data is most likely based on the usage of MSIE 8.0 RC1 version, as MSIE 8.0 was only released in GA last week. It is highly probable that these stats will change in the very near future with the release of MSIE 8.0 to Windows Update.
In the EU, where fear and loathing of Microsoft runs deep and true, Firefox 3.0 is approaching parity with MSIE 7.0. Also, the perennially favoured native son Opera makes a very strong showing with their 9.6 release.
Asia is a Web designers nightmare, with MSIE 6.0 continuing to be the most reported browser. This is concerning, not simply for design reasons, but for web compliance reasons. Effectively Asia has throttled Web development to an old warhorse, but to such a degree that there must be some overriding advantage to using this browser.
As an example, the statistical comparison of four Asia nations is broken out below. We’ll start with Japan where MSIE 7.0 has a clear lead in the statistics.
However, when China (People’s Republic), India, and South Korea are added into the analysis, the pull towards MSIE 6.0 is massive.
This trend needs to be studied in greater detail in order to understand why MSIE 6.0 is so popular. Is it because of licensing? Continued use of Windows 2000? Compromised computers? The data doesn’t provide any clear or compelling reason for this trend.
Moving to Oceania shows a return to the trend of MSIE 7.0 being the predominant browser with Firefox in second place, with these two browsers showing a substantial lead over the remaining field.
South America sees MSIE 7.0 as having the largest market share, followed by MSIE 6.0 and Firefox 3.0. Effectively there are no other browsers with substantial market share at present.
These statistics show that the three most dominant browser platforms by market share are the two MSIE platforms followed by Firefox 3.0. This is likely to change with the MSIE 8.0 GA last week and its predicted release to the masses via Windows Update in the near future.
However, the release of MSIE 8.0 may not be as exponential as is predicted. Corporate IT policies, which have been slow to embrace MSIE 7.0, are likely not going to make a giant leap to MSIE 8.0 overnight. Adoption among the general population will also depend on the ability of existing Web applications to adapt to a more standards-compliant browser platform.
Noticeably absent from most of these statistics is Safari in a position to challenge the three leading browsers. This indicates that even hardcore Mac users continue to use Firefox as their primary Web application and browsing platform. StatCounter backs this up by indicating that within their data, 8.36% of visitors from the USA were on Macs, while 3.15% of visitors used Safari.
Trends to watch in the near future:
- New browser releases (Firefox 3.1, Safari 4.0) and their effect on browser distribution
- Uptake of MSIE 8.0 once it is released via Windows Update
- Browser distribution is Asia