Chrome takes a bite out of IE and Firefox

I haven’t taken a close look at this site’s browser stats in nearly two years. The last time I looked was in mid-2008, shortly after the release of Firefox 3. At that time, Internet Explorer had a 57% share among visitors to this site and Firefox was just over 38%, with Safari and Opera fighting for scraps.

image Things have changed a lot since then. Firefox is now up to version 3.6. Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 roughly a year ago. And most important of all, Google Chrome entered the lineup. Google has a hit on its hands, and according to my stats Chrome’s success is coming at the direct expense of not just Internet Explorer but also Firefox.

To see the trends, I looked at three separate snapshots covering fall 2008, early 2009, and early 2010. Each snapshot was 30 days in length and included a minimum of 100,000 site visits.

September 2008

Here’s the first snapshot. It covers the 30 days beginning September 2, 2008, when Google released its first beta of Chrome for Windows.

Browser stats 2008-09

Remarkably, with a brand-new beta release, Google was nearly able to equal the combined share of Safari and Opera. IE (all versions, but overwhelmingly IE7 at that point) was still hovering over the 50% mark, and Firefox had not cracked the 40% level. Those early Chrome adopters were, for the most part, IE switchers. The Chrome percent is almost perfectly equal to the drop in IE share from just a few months earlier.

March 2009

It’s possible that the fast start for Chrome was all from curiosity seekers, who would go back to their old default browsers after the experiment was done. So I jumped forward six months, to March 2009, picking the 30 days beginning with Microsoft’s official release of Internet Explorer 8. (It had been in a lengthy beta cycle and had already garnered lots of usage even in beta, but this was the official release.)

Browser stats 2009-03

Microsoft’s customer base remained loyal (a closer look at the stats reveals that more than 30% of IE7 users upgraded in the first 30 days alone, and IE6 usage remained static). The slight increase in Chrome usage was almost perfectly equal to the slight drop in Firefox usage. Notably, this was the first time in four years that I had seen Firefox usage drop.

March 2010

And now the final snapshot, for the 30 days ending yesterday.

Browser stats 2010-03

Remarkably, Chrome has achieved better than 10% share, and its six-point gain has come in nearly equal chunks from the IE and Firefox user base. IE is down below 50% usage, and Firefox has retreated to its historical figures from 2006 and 2007. That’s a 2.7% drop for Firefox and a 3.8% drop for IE, which neatly accounts for the 6%+ increase in Google Chrome usage over the past year.

Some good news for Microsoft in general and the web as a whole: According to my most recent stats, IE6 usage has dropped to less than 8%—still too high, but a welcome trend—and IE8 has been adopted by more than 71% of IE users.

I think there’s no question that Google Chrome’s usage share will continue to grow. The big questions are: how high can it can climb, and at whose expense? Meanwhile, Microsoft is looking for the floor. How low will their share go before it stabilizes?

I think we’re entering a period where three browsers—and three HTML rendering engines—are going to dominate. I’ll be very interested to revisit this topic in a year and see what’s changed.

Trend-watchers can look at all my previous posts on this subject by following these links:

June 2008

December 2007

April 2007

September 2006

April 2006

August 2005

October 2004

10 thoughts on “Chrome takes a bite out of IE and Firefox

  1. I show up here both with IE (8) [when I come from Twitter] and in Chrome [when I come from Google Reader]. I don’t use Firefox much (I’ve never much liked it].

  2. Ed,

    Interesting numbers and I suspect the trends largely match what’s going on. But it’s important to note that your audience is not necessarily a mainstream one, particularly with regard to IE6.

    At, which has a more mainstream audience, IE6 is still at 12 percent. That number is higher than it should be, but it IS a relatively high number, and one that makes it difficult for a developer to write off IE6 users.

    Chrome, by the way, is only at 4.5 percent on our site. These numbers are for the last 30 days.

  3. True indeed, Dwight. The more a website is aimed at tech early adopters, the more these numbers will be skewed. Ironically, though, most of the readership of this site comes through search, from people looking for help with Windows. So the regular readers of this site are more tech-savvy than average, but they are not indicative of the overall traffic.

    I heard one webmaster earlier today at a new tech site who said 27% of his traffic comes from Google Chrome today. And if you follow the link in this post back to 2004, you’ll see Paul Thurrott quoting a survey showing Firefox market share at 10% in 2004. At that time, before I started at ZDNet, this site had a Firefox usage of nearly 25%.

    Also, are you able to access historical numbers? It would be interesting to see what IE6 share was a year ago.

    1. Are you basing that on any data or is it just your feeling? If so, you might be projecting. I know quite a few people who are well aware of alternatives and choose IE. As much as that may piss off the Anyone But Microsoft crowd, some people actually do like and choose Microsoft products.

  4. Ed, you up until recently you could count me in the latter category; the ones that actually do like and choose a Microsoft browser although well informed of the choices. I have preferred IE8 for a long time, but the latest version of Chrome made me change my preferences. Time will tell what will happen when IE9 arrives. I still think the UI of IE8 is great and overall performance good, but have to admit that Chrome is faster (hence the switch) – still miss the ability to pin the favorite column and just hit the blue arrow to open a bookmarked site in a new tab, but I guess I can’t have it both ways.

  5. I always have an alternative browser on my machines, in case of an odd web site that works better, or even at all with anything but I.E. It used to be Firefox, but today it’s Chrome. Chrome is so much easier and faster than the others that I’m almost driven to use it as my main. But the World still prefers I.E. most of the time. I like I.E., but I like Chrome more at times.

  6. Thanks for the interesting stats Ed. Google Chrome has had a rapid impact on usage share figures since it came online and has made IE & Firefox sit up and take notice. It runs fast and and there is a lot to like about it. I do like Firefox but they have some work to do leading up to the release of 3.7.

  7. Google Chrome is getting slower and slower. The best one with the best speed is version 2. But it is buggy.. And Firefox is getting faster and faster. (Don’t install too much of unwanted extension). Hopefully Google will solve out this problem in later version.

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