Year-end Web browser dogfight results

Year-end Web browser dogfight results

Summary: Depending on whose numbers you buy, either Chrome or Internet Explorer is the top desktop Web browser dog.


My dog, Twiggy, a 15-pound Shih Tzu, is sure he's the neighborhood alpha dog despite the presence of much larger German Shepherds, Chows, and Labrador Retrievers, Because he has a "big dog" attitude, he gets away with it more often than not. When it comes to desktop Web browsers, however, the bigger the "dog," the more likely it is to be the top dog.

So, if you believe with StatCounter's Web browsers numbers for December 2013, Google Chrome is the browser big dog. On the other hand, if you buy into NetMarketShare's statistics, Internet Explorer (IE) is the dominant pooch.

StatCounter Web Browser December 2013
StatCounter's Web browser numbers for the last quarter of 2013.

StatCounter has had Chrome as number one since August 2012. In December 2013, StatCounter shows Chrome on top with 46.63 percent of global desktop users. IE comes in second with 24.91 percent and Firefox third with 20.3 percent. In the back of the pack we find Safari with 4.8 percent and Opera with 1.33 percent.

Looking at the last quarter, StatCounter finds Chrome growing quickly at IE's expense. In October Chrome had 42.45 percent and IE had 30.67 percent. That's a gain of 4.18 percent for Chrome and a loss of 5.76 percent for IE.

NetMarketShare Web Browser December 2013
NetMarketShare's Web browser numbers for the last quarter of 2013.

It's an entirely different world when you look through it with NetMarketShare-colored glasses. By NetMarketShare's count, IE's number one with 57.91 percent, a modest drop from the previous two months. Firefox is number two, with 18.45 percent with another small decline during the quarter, and Chrome, in the third spot, gained on the other two with 16.22 percent, an increase of 0.8 percent since October. The runts of the litter are Safari with a steady 5.83 percent and Opera with1.33 percent, and shrinking.

Say hello to the early days of Web browsers (gallery)

The two major Web browser tracking companies give us such different results because they use two different methodologies. While the results are all about Web browsers, the pair isn't really looking for the same thing. Net Applications, Net Market Share's parent company, is more interested in counting unique visitors' Web browser hits, while StatCounter looks at raw browser hits. For more on how each counts Web browsers see my article: The Web browser wars continue, and #1 is… well, that depends on whom you ask.

Which Web browser is the most popular also depends to some extent on the Websites their users prefer. For example, when I looked at ZDNet's own Web browser data for August 2013, I found 29.8 percent of ZDNet readers used Chrome. IE took second place with 19.9 percent and Firefox was in third place with 13.2 percent. Lagging in the back was Safari with 4.7 percent and Opera with 0.5 percent. 27.7 percent of browsers couldn't be identified.

I wasn't surprised since ZDNet readers tend to be early adopters and Chrome, for now at least, tends to be the most innovative of the Web browsers. You can also see this by the way ZDNet users flocked to the then relatively new IE 10.

And, what does all this have to do with big and little dogs? I'll tell you what. Once upon a time, a small company or group, like an Opera or Mozilla, could spring out of the pack and take over. Those days are done, these days the big dogs rule and that means Google and Microsoft are the real rivals to be the leader of the Web pack.

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Topics: Networking, Enterprise Software, Google, Microsoft, Web development

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  • Sneak attack

    I know so many people (not saying majority or anything like that)
    that have Chrome and don't even know it. All they did was download another app and without unchecking the box Chrome came along for the ride. You can go to and Google has a Test your Speed button to download Chrome long before the actual BEGIN TEST button appears. Some people mistakenly download thinking they are performing a connection speed test. There are countless other download opportunities like this because they are by far the biggest advertising company on the web.
    • Yes Chrome is fast

      Not taking anything away from Chrome regarding speed and features.
      Just pointing out tactics used by Google to gain market share in order to mine more data.
      • our data indicates that...

        We maintain 100+ websites for our customers. Google analytics for all our sites indicates that IE is gaining on desktop. Chrome is loosing.
        • Good story

          • Hi there pig.

        • i haven't seen much movement

          In any direction in 2013. Looked to me like everything stood still in the browser wars.
        • it's losing, not loosing, you twit

          learn to spell
      • The fastness of Chrome is at least partly a myth...

        ... and based on fact that it's opening fast. On the other hand with web browsing it's not faster than Firefox. And then it has not as good apps as Firefox has.

        One of the main reasons why i moved back from Chromium to Firefox was Google's browser failuries with some video formats. Another was Google ecosystem pushing all kind of "Google ecosystem" on eyes. Firefox don't spy so much. With Chrome your privacy is very questionable state. With Firefox one can feel much more free.
        • Here is the site where you can test the speed of your browser

          In my old PC the winner was Firefox 26. Much faster than Chromium 31. Opera was slowest. And as a Linux user i don't use IE.
          • Scratching my head

            I have 2 browsers on my workstation - IE because I have to, and FF for my security position. IE9x64 score - 43.16. FF 26.0 score - 883.16.

          • ie9 seriously???

            How about 10 or 11? what are you a Vista user?
          • He's not a Vista user

            but he is a shill.
          • IE9 X64

            He is using the 64bit version that has constantly show to be much slower than any 32bit browser. Try the 32 bit version. Chrome and FF dont even make a 64bit version at this time.
          • Of course there are 64 bit versions of Firefox!


            As a Linux user, I've been using 64 bit FF exclusively for years.
          • Chrome/Chromium is fast but only when opening it

            People are seriously misunderstanding the fastness of browser. It's surely true than Chrome/Chromium browser is opening fast, much faster than others. But after that it seems to be at all faster than e.g Firefox. I'm little bit shy to admit that actually it took some one year i finally realized the truth.

            And after Snowden telling some dark truths about MS, Google and Apple i started to think again the meaning of safe browsing and importance of privacy. Besides i've always apprericated the other strength of FF: apps and it's better ability to block annoying adds.

            I'm not the only one who have moved back to FF after era of using Chrome/Chromium.
            Napoleon XIV
        • Chrome preloads

          Chrome browser preloads a LOT more than other browsers.
          You browse one page with chrome and it can download half a dozen more pages which you may not ever view before you even click the links. Chrome generates a lot of deceptive hits if the stats do not differentiate unique users.
          I try to disable this feature in browsers where I can, but most people wouldn't even know that Chrome is chewing thru bandwidth by default.
    • Useless article

      Not one word about mobile. Half of Internet traffic is on. mobiles
      • thus half of Internet traffic would NOT be on Mobiles

        The article is clearly about full featured Desktop browsers not crippled mobile wannabes.
      • Here are some interesting new data of mobiles/pc, OS and browsers

        Wikimedia latest figures (Dec 2013): Windows in free downfall, now 46,29%. And in deep trouble with PC also:

        (46,29-0,62)/66,8 x 100 = 68,37%
        (Windows - Windows Mobiles)/ non-mobiles x 100

        Just over 68% of portables/desktops using Windows when doing some wikiseach. A year before (Dec 2012) the share was:

        (68,21-0,56)/80,2 x 100 = 84,35%

        And you can check also the share of browsers there:

        Browsers, non mobile All requests Html pages
        Chrome 67,421 M 30.70% 6,935 M 29.88%
        Firefox 24,660 M 11.23% 2,760 M 11.89%
        MSIE 22,307 M 10.16% 2,810 M 12.11%
        Mozilla 14,558 M 6.63% 1,606 M 6.92%
        Safari 7,585 M 3.45% 1,168 M 5.03%
        Opera 3,372 M 1.54% 260 M 1.12%
        iPhone 1,106 M 0.50% 102 M 0.44%

        Not claiming that these figures are "final truth" but surely they are telling us about the trend of IT, OS and browsers too. Windows is dying and even Windows users are leaving IE-browser.
        • Please take a statistics course!

          I suggest you take a first-year course in statistics, and then reconsider what you wrote. I wish publishers would require journalists to know at least basic statistics too.

          Counting page hits on one website is not sufficient for drawing any statistical inference about the share of hits across all pages, and not anywhere near sufficient for saying anything about user share.

          If you want to see proper estimates, take a look at NetApplications. According to their statistically sound estimates, over 90% of users who browse the web from ‘desktop’ devices (which includes notebooks and Windows tablets) run Windows. Fewer than 8% use Macs and fewer than 2% user Linux. Since January 2009, Windows has fallen from 94.3% to 90.7%, and this excludes iOS and Android tablets, which are counted as part of the ‘mobile’ market (where iOS leads, followed by Android).