28 June 2011

Signs of consumer success for Internet Explorer 9

While writing my previous article, I thought I might also check the market share for the 4, to see how it evolves now that it was already replaced by a newer version. But another thing has drawn my attention instead: Internet Explorer 9 is actually used more in the weekends, like most of the other alternative browsers. Many companies don’t allow users to run their browser of choice and thus the usage distribution varies significantly when comparing the five working days with the weekend. The pattern is visible in the data gathered by multiple providers – StatCounter and Clicky – and shows up as well for the day-by-day usage of operating systems. Unlike the older versions, IE9 gains a couple of percentages on Saturday, meaning people are actively using it over the competition. It’s one sign of better adoption, even if the market share has increased only slowly after the March launch – slower than the rival Firefox, released soon after.

Using the data publicly available from StatCounter for the past two months (Mai 1st to June 26th) for North America, I made a chart to better visualize the changes. The daily market share for browser versions is averaged by weekday. The only exception is , where I added the individual market shares to get a global number, because in this time frame Chrome has already gone through two versions and the weekly trend would be hidden by the rise and fall of individual versions. Finally, I displayed the remaining days as differences in relation to Thursday, to better emphasize the changes and deemphasize the actual market share, which isn’t very important in this context. Comparison of browser market share by weekday

The result is pretty telling: the situation Monday through Friday is more or less unchanged and very similar to the Thursday baseline. On the other hand, Saturday and Sunday see big drops of 1.5 to 2.5% for Internet Explorer 7 and 8, while most other browsers gain share: more than 1.5% for Chrome, about 1% Internet Explorer 9, 0.5% desktop and iPad Safari. Only Firefox 4 is relatively unchanged: it has a spike on Saturday, but the usage on Sunday drops back to levels lower that even Mondays. Putting this particular result aside – after all, it could be an artifact caused by the chosen period, the distribution of other holidays for example – it’s clear that the browsing preferences shift during weekends towards greater diversity and never versions. Internet Explorer 9 rides the same trend, further boosted by the increased use of Windows 7.

And to end the article, let’s go back to the original reason I checked the browser statistics, Firefox’ update cycle. As you can see in the picture, immediately after Firefox 5 was released it started to rapidly replace version 4 and in a matter of days it has already surpassed it in usage share. In another day or so Firefox 4 will drop even below Internet Explorer 9, making it most likely the browser with both the longest development cycle and the shortest life span ever. Fortunately, it looks like Mozilla has succeeded in speeding up the migration between versions and the users are accepting it relatively quickly. The problem in the longer term will probably be the older Firefox 3.6, which seems unaffected by the two updates – the more “conservative” users sticking with the “comfortable”, classic interface and add-ons. Browser market share fast Firefox 4 decline

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