The great browser war is back with a vengeance. This is a continuation article of my last year’s post “The Great Browser”. The article was a huge success and many people enjoyed reading it. Since then I have been keeping a close eye on the growth of browsers in the internet world. This year has been quiet similar to the previous one with lots of updated version rolling out. We will start off with some statistics to show you the overall usage of browsers. Then we will do our self measures on some criteria which really makes a browser popular. The criteria are – speed , security and stability. In case you want to read some interesting history of browsers then you can refer my article – The Great browser war.
So let us begin with the popularity and worldwide usage front. We will again divide it into two scenarios. The Big screen scenario will focus on browser popularity on PC’s and laptops. The small screen scenario will cover the tablets and smart phones.
The Big screen scenario
The big screen scenario comprises of desktop and laptop. This year has really been the worst year for Microsoft’s Internet explorer. They rolled out the version 9 of explorer series claiming that it will make your web beautiful but clearly it has lost grounds by more than 5% this year and the current overall estimate of IE is below 50%. Firefox remained almost stable. The version 5 couldn’t do much of magic but still the version 4 of Firefox is still their most popular browser. Firefox once again is the runner up the race after IE. Third and the fastest growing browser is Google crome which has climbed unexpected heights in this war. Crome is throwing updates after updates and this year they released three new versions of crome and by the time I am writing this post, they have launched version 13 of crome ( that’s insane though). Even though IE still holds the first spot but it has been largely due to the support of the windows platform.
Here I have some interesting statistics. Microsoft skipped the support of IE9 for Windows XP and purely focused on its Vista and windows 7 users. Though there has been an overall dip in the usage of IE8 , but IE9 has brought some silver linings for Microsoft. More than 65% of Windows 7 users have shifted to IE version 9. This is really good news for Microsoft. The overall usage of IE9 is still not more than 28% worldwide but still it has been reporting a steady growth. It has shown the fastest growth rate since its launch in June. This brings Microsoft’s overall browser market share to pass 50%. Firefox is the oldest competitor and it has a share close to 28%. Firefox has shown some resistance over the past few years and still it is the top browser in countries like china and Russia who have high internet users. But Firefox doesn’t have the strong bank balance that Google or Microsoft has. In the recent few months, Crome has grown at a faster rate compared to Firefox. Even the 9th version of IE has shown a quick growth but the new versions of Firefox have shown marginal growth. Microsoft has done a great job to integrate the hardware acceleration of IE9 with the windows machine to give a better performance.
But not to forget crome whose ads are spreading like fire through Google Adsense program. Google is very actively using its advertisement service to popularize its browser and without any biased decision its probably right to say that it is the best amongst all.
This is the browser usage figure for Aug 2010 to Aug 2011. The scene has changed a lot now. Its true that there was a time when IE held more than 80% of the browser market but there were not many competitors that time. But now several big names have jumped into this war and hence its more fierce this time. If the above figure scared Microsoft then the next one will hit them really hard.
Here is an image which shows the overall browser usage from 2008 till 2011.
There are three very simple analysis that we can make out of this figure :
- IE has steadily dropped in browser usage share worldwide.
- Firefox almost stagnant.
- If IE fell and Firefox was stagnant then where did the remaining value go!! . I think you know the answer. Its CROOOOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEEEE.
The 4th browser in this list is Safari which is largely supported because it is the default browser in Mac. The fierce battle between the top three has left almost no space for any other browser so there hardly anything to say about the 4th spot. The fifth spot belongs to Opera in this battle which remains close to Safari and keeps turning up and down. Well we cannot ignore Opera, no matter its on the fifth spot in the big screen scenario. Why??? Let’s find out.
Small screen scenario
Till last year this segment consisted only of mobile phones. But this year we have a new guest, Tablets. So let’s start with welcoming our new guest. The worldwide internet usage on ipad 2 passed 1% in july this year. This figure is 2.2% in USA. Well the reason I chose only Ipad stats here is that rest other tablet competitors are so far that their total doesn’t even counts to .5% of total internet usage on tablets. Well lets move on now. As I just said that Opera should not be ignored and the reason is that it is the best mobile browser from past one decade. It accounts for nearly 22% or total browser usage on mobile devices and continues to be at the top list. Regardless to say that the figures were far more impressive if we look at last 5 year stats but mobile development has seen tremendous changes in past 5 years and its full credit goes again to Google’s yet another revolutionary product called Android. Here in this figure we can see the past three year statistics for small device browsers.
As you can clearly see that opera wins the battle, but the fight is close here. Its not as open as the previous scenario. If nokia and iphone are fighting for the second spot then blackberry and android are fighting for the third. The race is really tough here. But the future of Opera doesn’t look as bright as it had been in the past. The intense growing market of apple products and the fast flow of android around the world will surely surpass all stats and again it will be a battle of lost grounds. Here I will show you an interesting figure. These are the stats of mobile browser usage for past three months. Well be ready for the blow Mr. Steve Jobs J
Well these are the figures which are currently buzzing in the whole world. The last three months internet usage through smart phones and tablets shows that Android has won the race with iphone, nokia and blackberry. Currently there are more than 500000 unlocks of Android phones each day in USA. It will be really interesting to see how this battle shapes up. We cannot neglect any playes in this segment because the fight is close and any single cool product from either of them can change the whole game.
Let us now analyse which browser will suit you the most according to your usage. We will be using three criteria to measure. They are speed, security and stability. You can choose your preference accordingly. We will be testing the top three browsers namely IE8, Firefox 5, and Crome 8(most popular ones in each category).
Well if you are talking about speed then there is no fight. Crome is truly the winner in this segment. Google has really thrown their best engineering to make crome lightening fast. The way it loads the cache and its auto suggestion of url makes the browsing experience really fast. HackingAlert conducted a small experiment to justify this fact. We conducted a speed test for loading hackingalert.blogspot.com on the three browsers. Here are the screen shots
The first screenshot is the load time in crome browser and the load time is 6.5 seconds followed by IE by 14.5 and Firefox by 17 seconds. As you can see that crome loads same webpage twice as fast as other browsers. So for those users who want a fast browsing experience shall move to crome.
Here there was a close fight. This fight was between IE and crome. While testing my several hacking experiments I prefer using Firefox because of its lame default security measures compared to IE and crome. Both IE and Crome have automatic client side code filtering and certificate cross validating feature which is absent in Firefox. But considering the incredible connectivity of the latest IE9 integrations with the windows machine, I will vote IE to be a better option for those who want complete security while they are on internet.
When it comes to stability, Firefox is the ultimate winner. Fewer crashes, more multiple tab support and excellent performance when browser is used for localhost server operations. It stands out of the crowd and delivers the best performance. It is most preferred by users who want to use it as the GUI for server operations like connecting with servers WAMP, XAMPP, Oracle database etc. Firefox has proved really stable under such situations.
Though the battleground is old but the players are new and fresh. It’s not only about updating versions, infact it’s about bringing the change in user experience. We are too small to criticize the hard work that these companies put to provide us quality products. For us its merely a choice of browser but for them it’s their yearlong effort. Whatever they put before us is an engineering marvel so whoever wins the battle, the ultimate winner will be the users.
Hope this article will help you choose your favourite flavour of browser. I wish good luck to all the browsers and hope to see more twists next year!!!