Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chrome beats Internet Explore in browser stakes

There was surprising news from StatCounter earlier this month when Chrome topped Internet Explorer as the most popular web browser for the week of 14-20 May.

Sourced from CNET: Chrome now world's top browser, but beware the math

While this is only one of the services reporting browser use, represents only one week and is a global figure - so may not represent the situation in specific countries (such as Australia) - it is indicative of the changes underway in the web browsing habits of people around the world.

All major international reports on web browser usage have reported that Internet Explorer has been on a downward slide for several years, with Chrome or Safari picking up most of the market share shift and Firefox and Opera being limited beneficiaries.

While this reflects the growth of mobile browsing (Apple iOS uses Safari, Android devices use Chrome), it also represents a significant change in desktop and laptop computer use.

While corporate and government organisations remain major uses of Internet Explorer due to its lead in corporate management features (though Firefox and Chrome have moved to match these), households are choosing their main web browser based on speed, usability and usefulness.

Reliable Australian web browsing figures are harder to find - it would be very useful if organisations such as Google or Facebook (the top sites visited by Australians) released their figures.

However I can say that, from Microsoft's figures, Internet Explorer 6 use in Australia has fallen to 1.2% of the browsing public. This is a GOOD THING as IE6 is an 11 year old vendor-unsupported, insecure and standards non-compliant web browser, unsupported by many major websites and which adds, in my experience, 20-30% on the costs of any web development project.

I should note that Microsoft is trying to end the use of Internet Explorer 6 and has even begun taken steps to automatically upgrade people to more modern versions (beginning with Australia and Brazil).

You can learn more about Microsoft's campaign to end IE6 at their website, The IE6 Countdown.

Sorry if you are one of the remaining organisations using IE6, however my FOI request on web browsing and social media use across government has revealed that largely agencies have made or are making the move to upgrade.

From the now 65 responses I've been able to analyse, only 7 (11%) indicated they still used IE6 on desktop computers. While this is quite a bit higher than the national rate (1.2%), it is much smaller than I had anticipated. Of course if this includes large agencies the percentage of APS staff using IE6 may be significantly higher.

I've provided a breakdown below of the browsers that government agencies indicated they used.

Notes and caveats
  • this represents 65 agencies, large and small, of 166 approached - so is representative but not population data
  • many agencies used more than one web browser, so the figures don't add up to 65. 
  • I've excluded browsers that no agency indicated they used (and I asked about all major browsers back to the time of Internet Explorer 6's release). 
  • I forgot to ask about the use of Blackberry's browser on mobile phones - essentially every agency using Blackberries use this browser.


  1. Just a small note, and much to my own frustration. Android does not use Chrome. :(

  2. hmm - yep you're right :) (;txt)

    So it's primarily Safari benefiting from mobile!