The unstoppable rise of Google Chrome

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Earlier this year I reported that Chrome was destined to become the default web browser for Ubuntu. At that time, Chrome still had a fair way to catch up to Firefox’s userbase. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was holding out strong as the preferred browser on the internet. These stats are changing fast.

This month, StatCounter suggests that Chrome has finally stolen second place from Firefox if viewed on a global scale. Chrome usage has been growing steadily throughout the year, while Firefox usage has seen a gradual decline since around midway through this year. Internet Explorer has also seen a general downward trend that suggests that Chrome’s user growth is largely due to users switching from the other two browsers.

StatCounter Global Stats are fairly reliable, since they are based on aggregate data collected on a sample exceeding 15-billion page views per month (4-billion from the US) from the StatCounter network of more than three million websites. After having a quick look around at some of the other stats sites, it looks like they’re pretty much spot-on. Most other sites are showing that the crossover has already happened, or that it is likely to happen by the end of the month.

More interesting trends can be observed if you switch between continents. South America saw Chrome outdo Firefox way back in April, and Chrome is already ahead of Internet Explorer usage by close on 10%. Some suggested reasons for South America’s quick uptake of Chrome include the fact that Google’s social networking site, Orkut, has proved to be most successful in this region. Apparently IE had some quirks with the Orkut UI, and Chrome just seemed to be the obvious choice when interfacing with other Google products. Another feasible reason for this is that internet connections and home computers in South America are generally a bit slower, so a lean browser results in a better overall user experience.

Chrome took Firefox’s place in Asia back in September, while in Europe, Africa and North America Chrome still has some catching up to do if it wants second place. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to happen. Certainly the gap is rapidly closing, and it is clear that once people take to Chrome, they don’t leave. Since it’s that time of year when people like to make wild predictions, looking closely at Chrome’s growth over the last year, I would expect it to jump ahead of Internet Explorer midway through next year, and unless something crazy happens it should have more than half of all Internet users using it by the end of 2012.

Of course, that sort of prediction is a little bit enthusiastic. It will really depend a lot more on how quickly mobile internet usage increases. Currently, among Mobile devices, Safari is the king of browsers. That suggests that iPhone users tend to browse a whole lot more than anybody else. With tablet PC’s starting to flood the market, we’re going to see some big shifts in browser choice thanks to these new devices. Since a lot of them run Android, we could see Google pushing Chrome usage even further on these systems. That may make my predictions a little conservative, but who knows.

Times are exciting. We’re seeing a full-scale revolution in terms of people’s preferred technology. As more and more of our day-to-day applications and data storage requirements move out onto the Internet, we are likely to see the browser war heat up to something we haven’t seen since the late 90′s. I’ve tried Chrome a few times, but I generally prefer to use Firefox.

Recently, I tried out Opera and was impressed by its built-in mail client, but I’m quite happy with the applications that I already use. From my perspective, its quite difficult to determine exactly what motivates people to switch browsers. If you’ve recently switched, I’d be interested to hear what you switched to and your motivations for doing so. Drop a comment below.

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  • Jack Creason

    I used FF for years and used Chrome since beta for one thing I do. I recently switched to using Chrome full time. I was tired of FF crashing and the resources it was using. IT was ridiculous. As FF got new updates the resources it used went up. Chrome, either stayed the same or dropped. 

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  • http://twitter.com/martincarstens martin’

    I use a combination of Chrome and Firefox. Although I know Xmarks can sync bookmarks across browsers, I haven’t discovered a way to sync browsing history. Firefox Sync could do this between instances of Firefox, but that’s as far as it went.

  • http://profiles.google.com/duplessismj Meagan Janice du Plessis

    I’ve been using Chrome since September 2008 – haven’t looked back since. 

    Problem I’ve been having lately is that I work with various other Google products and I was very reluctant to give up Chrome as my personal browser so I jumped between Firefox and Opera for the Google products. I was very unhappy with Firefox’s performance – it would freeze on me or not load properly, even went back to Firefox 3.6 still wasn’t satisfied.So the quest began to find browsers similar to Chrome. Thank goodness for folks out there who worked on developing Chromium-based browsers. Back in 7th Heaven with Comodo Dragon as first choice for Google products and ChromePlus as a back.

    P.S. haven’t gone near IE since Firefox & Opera got tab browsing! 

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  • http://www.twitter.com/jessello jessello

    Chrome is like a MacBook. It works.

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  • Rowan Puttergill

    Ha ha… except for Safari perhaps :P
    This is an interesting comment, though. The idea that something ‘just works’ is a strong driving force in adoption. In fact, this is one of the reasons that operating systems like Linux struggle to gain adoption. There is a general perception that there is something complicated about Linux and that things don’t always ‘just work’. When something consumes your time in fixes, updates and whatnot… there is a point where you have to start considering alternatives.
    From the other comments on this post, it seems that Firefox users who migrate to Chrome all complain about performance issues and crashes. I’ve rarely had that much trouble with Firefox, but its clearly a huge determining factor in migration.

  • Rowan Puttergill

    I’m interested in why you choose Comodo Dragon over other Chrome-based browsers. I assume that this is largely for its privacy features. This is also pretty interesting, as I often wonder how many users actually care that much about privacy and the software that they use. Are there many other Dragon users?

    After Comodo’s embarrassing security compromise earlier this year, which I covered in this article (http://memeburn.com/2011/09/is-it-time-to-rethink-ssl/), I wouldn’t feel confident in the security features that it promotes in its own browser implementation. Maybe that’s an unfair judgement though.

  • Rowan Puttergill

    I would love to be able to have better sync between browsers… particularly history, form field entries and passwords. Session history would also be great. It would be pretty cool to be able to close Firefox with a set of tabs open, and then to load that session into Chrome, so that you could carry on with what you were already looking at.
    In a lot of ways, a browser war is such a silly concept. A lot of people switch between different browsers all the time. Particularly if they are involved in any kind of web development work. If browsers could all just play nice…

  • Rowan Puttergill

    I would love to be able to have better sync between browsers… particularly history, form field entries and passwords. Session history would also be great. It would be pretty cool to be able to close Firefox with a set of tabs open, and then to load that session into Chrome, so that you could carry on with what you were already looking at.
    In a lot of ways, a browser war is such a silly concept. A lot of people switch between different browsers all the time. Particularly if they are involved in any kind of web development work. If browsers could all just play nice…

  • Anonymous

    I actually switched from Chrome to Firefox, page rendering on Chrome is horrible, the Amazon webpage NEVER loads, but everything works just fine in Firefox. Firefox is also more secure. Firefox is WAY better…

  • http://www.twitter.com/jessello jessello

    Never ever had either of those problems. FIREfox will BURN out… All roads lead to chROME.

  • http://profiles.google.com/duplessismj Meagan Janice du Plessis

    Hi there thanx for the reply.

    Was interested in reading the link you posted here but it doesn’t lead anywhere. Between Comodo Dragon and ChromePlus, Comodo Dragon proved to be more responsive and faster better (at least on my machine). 

    I admit that I like having some control over my privacy settings and do what I can to safeguard against any threat, so having Comodo Dragon being produced by an internet security company was possibly an added side benefit but not the #1 reason I opted for it instead of ChromePlus.

    In addition, since I was going to be using this browser for Google Products I didn’t need the added ‘benefit’ of easy access to social media as Flock and now RockMelt affords. It still a matter of trial and error at the moment – being using Comodo Dragon for less than a month.

    Thanx for an interesting article and response.

  • Rowan Puttergill

    Apologies… the link seemed to catch the bracket that surrounded it. The link I referenced was:
    http://memeburn.com/2011/09/is-it-time-to-rethink-ssl/

  • http://profiles.google.com/duplessismj Meagan Janice du Plessis

    Thanx – will have to read that one a couple of times.

    Since reading your article I’ve installed Iron and RockMelt (though this would probably be a back-up personal browser, which will probably never get used since Chrome is #1)

  • Mercury255

    Simple for me. Chrome is the fastest, least crash-worthy, and most responsive. I regularly use Firefox, IE, and Opera now and again. Chrome beats them for speed and easeability. Yup, it just works.

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