The rise of Internet Explorer 8 (and other interesting data)

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Introduction

Some days ago I was speaking with a friend, and at a certain moment I realized that we were mentioning too many statistics made on the spot. About 93.6% to be more exact. At that time I remembered that we do have access to the statistics in TMS website, and so I could actually say something like "Chrome had 5% of the visits last month in our site" instead of "I asked 5 friends and 2 were using Chrome, ergo it has to have gotten some market share".

And what I found I think it was interesting enough to share, so this is what I will be doing here.
Note that there are statistics everywhere, so I could have just searched for existing ones. But I thought it would be nice to get our own, just for the following reasons:

  • We are a site for programmers, so this means our data is different from the "standard" places. Even when it not always is like that, you would expect our visitors to be more technologically savvy than the media.

  • I know I can trust our own statistics. Having so many interests in the game, you can't know if someone is being completely sincere or if he is "helping" the numbers to show what he wants to show. I know I have no bias, and no particular interest in any outcome.

  • It was fun. And why do we have Google Analytics if we are not going to use it?

Note: While this is a completely unscientific study, and I will make no claims of representative samples or confidence intervals or anything like that, we do have what I think is a big enough sample to play with. While I can't say the exact numbers, all charts here are based in hundreds of thousands of visits from all around the world. And given our target demographics, most of our visits are from Windows developers.

Browser market share

Probably a good place to start is the global market share of the most used browsers. I am charting the five browsers with most visits in the last month, and the idea is the same for all other charts, but of course this is not an exhaustive list. We even had some visits from a PlayStation Portable and Amiga OS last month.

As you can see it is a very tight fight between Firefox and Internet Explorer, with Firefox taking a small victory lately. All other browsers are way below; this is a two horse race. Personally, I expected to see bigger Chrome numbers given our target audience, but no, there are more programmers using Internet Explorer 6 than Chrome visiting our site.


Start Date End Date Firefox Internet Explorer Opera Chrome Safari
2008-04-29 2008-05-29 38% 53% 7% 1%
2008-05-30 2008-06-29 36% 55% 8% 1%
2008-06-30 2008-07-29 41% 51% 7% 1%
2008-07-30 2008-08-29 41% 50% 7% 1%
2008-08-30 2008-09-29 38% 48% 8% 4% 1%
2008-09-30 2008-10-29 41% 46% 8% 4% 1%
2008-10-30 2008-11-29 40% 47% 8% 4% 1%
2008-11-30 2008-12-29 40% 46% 8% 4% 1%
2008-12-30 2009-01-29 41% 44% 9% 5% 1%
2009-01-30 2009-02-28 43% 43% 8% 4% 1%
2009-03-01 2009-03-29 43% 42% 8% 5% 1%
2009-03-30 2009-04-29 43% 42% 7% 5% 2%

Browser versions

After the big picture it is interesting to see how the individual browser versions are behaving. As you can see in the chart, the update rate for Firefox is quite fast, 3.0.8 went from 1 to 27% of all our visits in one month, with 3.0.9 appearing at the end of it and already stating with 7% .

And the other surprise, at least for me here was Internet Explorer 8. In three months, we are getting almost as many visits from IE8 as we do from IE6, and it has left Chrome and the other browsers behind.
Yes I know it is in automatic updates, but I still didn't expect these numbers.
A bit of unsolicited advise: If you are not testing your site against IE8, start doing it right now.


Start Date End Date 3.0.8 7.0 6.0 8.0 3.0.9
2008-04-29 2008-05-29 36% 17%
2008-05-30 2008-06-29 39% 16%
2008-06-30 2008-07-29 35% 15%
2008-07-30 2008-08-29 35% 15%
2008-08-30 2008-09-29 33% 14% 1%
2008-09-30 2008-10-29 33% 12% 1%
2008-10-30 2008-11-29 34% 11% 1%
2008-11-30 2008-12-29 34% 11% 1%
2008-12-30 2009-01-29 33% 10% 1%
2009-01-30 2009-02-28 31% 11% 2%
2009-03-01 2009-03-29 1% 28% 10% 4%
2009-03-30 2009-04-29 27% 25% 9% 8% 7%

Browser versions when IE7 was introduced

I was surprised by the upgrade rate of IE8. We are speaking of hundreds of thousands of visitors here, who represent a much bigger number of users already using IE8. So, to know if there was something special about this, I went and dig the statistics when IE7 debuted (October 2006). Well, the uptake was similar, even when I didn't realize at that moment. As always this is probably related to our target audience, but still, it is surprising to me. Besides that, you can also see Firefox doing its crazy vertical update lines then as now.


Start Date End Date 7.0 6.0 2.0.0.3 9.20 1.5.0.11
2006-05-31 2006-06-30 4% 57%
2006-07-01 2006-07-31 4% 55%
2006-08-01 2006-08-31 5% 55%
2006-09-01 2006-09-30 6% 53%
2006-10-01 2006-10-31 9% 51%
2006-11-01 2006-11-30 16% 43%
2006-12-01 2006-12-31 23% 36%
2007-01-01 2007-01-31 26% 32%
2007-02-01 2007-02-28 29% 29% 0%
2007-03-01 2007-03-31 29% 28% 10% 1% 1%
2007-04-01 2007-04-30 29% 28% 27% 2% 3%
2007-05-01 2007-05-31 30% 28% 28% 3% 3%

Bonus chart: Operating Systems

And the last chart is unrelated with browsers, but I thought it was interesting enough to be mentioned. Our site targets mostly Windows developers, so there are no surprises in the large number of Windows users. But more interesting is to see how XP keeps so strong. Vista was released in January 2007, just a little after IE7, but differently from IE7 it has not cached up. Even among Windows developers, that one would expect use newer and more powerful machines. With Windows 7 around the corner, it is safe to say Vista will never get to numbers even near the ones XP got.


Start Date End Date XP Vista Server 2003 2000 (not set)
2008-04-29 2008-05-29 74% 19% 3% 3% 1%
2008-05-30 2008-06-29 74% 19% 3% 3% 1%
2008-06-30 2008-07-29 72% 21% 3% 3% 1%
2008-07-30 2008-08-29 71% 22% 3% 3% 1%
2008-08-30 2008-09-29 70% 23% 3% 3% 1%
2008-09-30 2008-10-29 69% 24% 3% 3% 1%
2008-10-30 2008-11-29 69% 23% 3% 3% 1%
2008-11-30 2008-12-29 68% 24% 3% 3% 1%
2008-12-30 2009-01-29 67% 25% 3% 3% 1%
2009-01-30 2009-02-28 67% 24% 3% 3% 1%
2009-03-01 2009-03-29 66% 26% 3% 2% 1%
2009-03-30 2009-04-29 66% 26% 3% 2% 1%


Trivia: The data for the charts and tables in this article comes from Google Analytics, but as you might have noticed if you are a G.A. user, I have rolled my own instead of using the charts in the Web interface. The reason? Simply that I couldn't find the charts I wanted in Google Analytics, and after some searching I decided that it would be easier to create them myself using C# and FlexCel than trying to create them by hand. But this is another story, so it deserves another post: How to extract information from Google Analytics using Analytics API and FlexCel.NET

Adrian Gallero


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