07 November 2010

Facebook, Facebook on the wall, who’s the most liked browser of all?

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post from the blog announcing a major milestone for the browser: reaching 100,000 fans on . I was planning to do an article about browsers and their popularity on Facebook for some time, so here’s a good opportunity to write it.

As you might suspect, other browsers have long passed this “milestone” and the next – the million. At the end of October, was in the lead with more than 2.5 Mio fans, followed by with some 2.3 Mio. Looking at the number of fans on Internet Explorer’s Facebook page, you wouldn’t guess it’s used by more that 50% of Internet users globally: only 160,000 fans, so not too far ahead of Opera. Safari lands on the last place compared to the other major browsers, with only ~ 25,000 fans. In fact, I’m not even sure that is the official page for Safari – or even if Apple’s browser has one – but this page has the largest community compared to other related to Safari.

The numbers get even more interesting if you compare the growth of these fan pages. There aren’t any official statistics about that, but I have saved some numbers at the end of May in a Buzz post. Back then, Firefox was still in the lead, with 1.4 Mio fans. In only 5 months, the number of people ‘liking’ one of the browsers has almost doubled, and Chrome looks like a clear winner, more than doubling it’s own fan base. If you calculate an average monthly growth rate, the market leaders had the slowest growth rates – Firefox about 10.5% and Internet Explorer only 3% – while the other browsers have gained approximately 20% more fans each month.

Browser popularity on Facebook (thousand fans, May vs. October)

Of course, drawing conclusions from these data is not very straightforward. First of all, even 2.5 Mio Chrome fans is a tiny number compared to how may people browse the Internet or even have a Facebook account. And the sample is probably not very representative of the whole Internet. Also, on social networks people might be inclined to hide their true opinions if they feel others would not agree or it would affect their ‘online image’. This could be one explanation for the very low fan base of Internet Explorer. Or it just might be that his market share is sustained by people who simply don’t have a choice about which browser they use. Or, even worse, people who don’t even know what a browser is: they just use the default installation and since they don’t recognize the software, they also don’t ‘fan’ it on Facebook.

But one conclusion I think can be drawn from these changes: the interest of online communities towards Firefox is starting to fade or at least it’s not growing as strong as before. People are starting to discover alternate browsers, after years being stuck with Internet Explorer. Even though Chrome is now in the spotlight in terms of market share growth and Facebook ‘popularity’, maybe we will see the other two contenders gaining noticeable ground in the near future.

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