Is Chrome the World’s Most Used Web Browser?

There have been quite a few stories lately claiming that Google Chrome is now the most used browser in the world — all stemming from a press release from Statcounter making the claim. I think it’s important to clarify the differences in Statcounter’s methodology when compared to NetMarketShare.

So, has Chrome really passed Internet Explorer as the world’s most used browser?

No – IE is still the leader, and it’s not even close. Here’s the latest desktop browser usage from NetMarketShare:

Desktop Browser Market Share – May, 2012



Microsoft IE 54.05%
Firefox 19.71%
Chrome 19.58%
Safari 4.62%
Opera 1.57%
Proprietary or Undetectable 0.28%
Mozilla 0.10%
Flock 0.02%
Konqueror 0.00%

Chrome has grown its usage share in an impressive fashion. They are very close to passing Firefox for the number 2 position in browser usage. But they are not threatening the number 1 position held by IE, and it doesn’t look like they will for the foreseeable future.

Why are Statcounter’s Numbers So Different from NetMarketShare’s?

The vast difference in NetMarketShare’s numbers when compared to Statcounter’s is primarily due to two factors: country-level weighting and the use of unique visitors instead of pageviews.

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic:

What is a Daily Unique Visitor, and Why Do You Count Those Instead of Pageviews?

NetMarketShare data is an aggregation of the traffic of all of our HitsLink clients, but instead of counting pageviews we count daily unique visitors. A daily unique visitor is counted only once per day per website we track, regardless of the number of pageviews the visitor has. While this may seem to greatly reduce our sample size from the billions of monthly pageviews we process to only the daily unique visitors, we do so to provide a more accurate picture of market share showing the number of users of a technology instead of the number of clicks. Counting unique visitors also renders bots designed to influence market share harmless. Counting pageviews for market share reports is very susceptible to bot attacks and inexplicable jumps in market share that don’t represent the true nature of the market.

What is Country-Level Weighting, and Why Do You Do It?

The NetMarketShare data is weighted by country. We compare our traffic to the CIA Internet Traffic by Country table, and weight our data accordingly. For example, if our global data shows that Brazil represents 2% of our traffic, and the CIA table shows Brazil to represent 4% of global Internet traffic, we will count each unique visitor from Brazil twice. This is done to normalize our global data. All regions have differing markets, and if our traffic were concentrated in one or more regions, our global data would be inappropriately affected by those regions. Country-level weighting removes any bias by region when you calculate a worldwide number like Statcounter has done.

Can You Give an Example of How Country-Level Weighting Affects Market Share?

IE has very strong market share in China, the US and Japan, which are also, by far, the largest bases of internet users in the world. Statcounter seems to have a larger focus of their users in other smaller countries where Chrome is more prevalent. They don’t normalize their data by country, so even though IE is used more around the world, Statcounter’s global data shows a regional bias toward the countries where Chrome is used more.

To give an example, let’s say Statcounter is counting 1000 pageviews from Ireland, and 800 of them are from Chrome users with 200 from IE users. They are also counting 1000 pageviews from China, with 800 from IE users and 200 from Chrome users. And, we’ll assume that the 1000 pageviews accurately represent each country’s total usage. They would tell you that Chrome and IE usage for the two countries combined is equal at 50% each. They ignore the fact that China has over 390,000,000 internet users to Ireland’s 3,000,000. It would be fairly obvious to most statisticians that the combined usage stats for the 393,000,000 internet users in the two countries would in fact be very close to 80% IE and 20% Chrome, but Statcounter would still report 50% each because they do not normalize the data in calculating their global numbers.

If they are trying to accurately show usage market share for two or more countries combined, their sample for each country should be weighted by internet population for each country. Rather, Statcounter claims that that the CIA data is out-of-date because it is from 2009, and therefore China and Ireland should be treated as though they have the same internet population. Of course, if Statcounter does not think CIA data is accurate, they could always normalize their data for geoweighting through another data provider.

What Parts of NetMarketShare are Free to the Public?

Much of the data on NetMarketShare is available to the public and press for free, including almost all of our standard reports and Featured Stories. We do have some premium reports and options that are specifically designed for our paid clients. However, you can explore the system without cost, and readily see that most of it is free to use.

Vincent Vizzaccaro is the EVP of Marketing for California-based Net Applications. Founded in 1999. Net Applications provides website development, monitoring, analytics and marketing intelligence to over 40,000 clients worldwide. For more information, email: vince@netapplications.com

About the author


Vincent Vizzaccaro

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment