Browser Election 2016: Chrome leads by landslide

Google's browser is now the choice of 51% of desktop users

Google Chrome, photo by Isaac Bowen [ HOLD - CW August 2016 ]
Credit: Isaac Bowen

Chrome reached a major milestone last month when it was used by more than half of those browsing from a personal computer, data published Monday showed.

According to U.S. analytics vendor Net Applications, Chrome's user share grew by more than 2 percentage points in July, the fourth time in the last six months that its gains were of that size, to end the month at 51%.

In the last 12 months, Chrome has added 23.1 percentage points to its user share, starting that stretch with less than 30% and ending by owning a majority of the worldwide desktop browser market. Only two browsers have controlled more than half of the global browser share this century: Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), which held a majority until December 2015, and now Chrome.

As throughout 2016, most of Chrome's July gains came at the expense of Microsoft's browsers. IE and the newer Edge collectively lost 2.1 percentage points, dropping to 34.7%, a record low. Apple's Safari shed one-tenth of a point, falling to 4.5%, its lowest level since November 2015.

Mozilla's Firefox recovered a small slice of the user share it has lost in the past year, climbing one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.1% during July. Firefox fell under 10% in May and has not seen that mark since.

But the browser story for July was the continued ascent of Chrome.

Since the beginning of the year, Chrome has added 18.6 percentage points of user share. The boost was essentially a gift from Microsoft, which in January demanded that IE users upgrade to the newest version available for their edition of Windows, and at the same time dropped all client-OS support for 2009's IE8 and 2012's IE10. The mandate required most customers to upgrade to IE11.

Faced with Microsoft's requirement, many rethought their choice of browsers instead. The unexpected result: Millions abandoned IE and switched to Chrome.

Although Microsoft may have expected Edge, the default browser in Windows 10, to collect users as they migrated to the new operating system, that has not happened. July's data from Net Applications showed that only 24% of all Windows 10 users ran Edge, a decline from 36% the year before.

ie surrenders crown

Google's Chrome passed the 50% mark in July as it continued to steal share.

If Chrome continues growing its share at the rate of the past 12 months, it will exceed 60% by December. Unless Microsoft arrests IE's free fall, the once-dominant browser will fall to 27% by the end of 2016.

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