According to The Search Equation, 2016 was ‘the year Chrome became the most popular browser’. And there is no real mystery as to why, but the real news was that Google’s Chrome browser finally knocked Internet Explorer off its pedestal across the world.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Twenty years of history had gone into Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, but last year they practically abandoned it – call it a divorce – and brought out new software, revealed as Microsoft Edge. 46% of web users were using IE at the end of 2015, according to Net Market Share, but this has fallen to 21% as of late 2016. Its popularity remains in Japan, Greenland, Iran, and a handful of other countries.
Officially the fastest-growing mainstream browser, which now holds just over 5% of the market share. Unfortunately for Microsoft, their huge base of IE users didn’t evolve to Edge but jumped ship to Google Chrome. Bundling Edge in with Windows 8 and 10 means first-time users have no choice but to use Edge, mostly used by Western countries as of last year.
Surprisingly, the last year has shown a small amount of Safari users, given that Apple sold 45.51million iPhones in the Q4 of last year alone. In 2014 it had a surge of use in Greenland, which has since reverted to Internet Explorer. While iPhone sales are high, Apple is losing ground to Android devices. Apple’s current model of relying on native apps has most definitely caused this drop in users of their browser, and they hold just 3.47% of the market as of 2016.
Surprisingly popular in Eastern Europe before Chrome’s launch, Opera’s market share now exceeds 2% of the market for the first time since March 2011. Its lightweight interface means it is perfect for those who cannot afford high-performance computers, phones and high internet speeds. Its popularity in Africa and Asia is down to the per capita income level in these areas – the lowest levels of income use Opera, compared to the highest income levels that use Chrome.
The global rankings for Google Chrome rank it at snagging 56.43% of the market over desktops and mobile. It is the undisputed champion of browsers, especially across America, Europe, and Australia: richer nations who have accessible, fast, and cheap data. Its marriage with Android phones has helped it become the browser of choice for millions of users, as Google has cleverly packaged a speedy browser into third-party hardware. Chromebooks do the same thing – and it is no surprise that developed nations with a high turnover of consumer electronics like tablets, phones, and PCs have taken Chrome as their number one browser, especially with all the services that Google now offers.
A majority of North and South African countries use Firefox – what was once Microsoft’s main rival is now used a small, lightweight browser that, like Opera, does not throttle speeds in countries where data is limited, and technology is perhaps not as accessible as it is in the West. In 2016 it overtook IE for the first time ever.
So, while Chrome remains king, we could be looking at a new monoculture of web browsing. Time will tell if these trends continue as they are or a newcomer steals Chrome’s crown.