Browser Wars Trends: A Year-by-Year Comparison

A couple weeks ago, we published our latest Browser Wars infographic, which revealed Chrome as the most popular browser on desktops/laptops and Safari as the most popular on mobile/tablet. What really got people talking, though, was the data showing BlackBerry 5 as the fastest mobile browser. Some people were shocked; others claimed to have known it all along. But the truth is BlackBerry 5 has been fastest since way back in November 2012, when we published our last Browser Wars infographic.

We thought it’d be fun to take a look at the data from our last three Browser Wars infographics, and see what other trends have emerged in the browser world over the last two years. Here were a few trends that stood out:

Chrome is taking over the desktop. When we first looked at our browser data back in April 2012, Internet Explorer was actually the most popular browser being used on desktops and laptops. But over the next seven months that preference shifted toward Chrome, bringing Google’s speedy browser in at 39% usage in November 2012. Today, Chrome is by far the most popular browser, taking in the majority of users at 64%.

BW_laptop_desktop

Safari still dominates on mobile—but that could change soon. Back in November 2012, Safari was by far the most popular browser on mobile devices. But fast-forward to today, and that market share is far more fragmented. Android definitely contributed to the downsizing of Safari, with it coming in as second most popular mobile browser. The far left-hand corner of the graph below shows something interesting, though—yep, that’s Chrome there, creeping in. True, it’s still only being used by a mere 9% of mobile users, but in a couple more years, who knows? The proliferation of Chrome that happened on the desktop/laptop may soon take place on mobile devices, too.

BW_phones_tablets

The fastest browsers back then are still the fastest today. Although the most popular browsers have clearly changed over the years, the fastest browsers, on the other hand, have remained constant. In April 2012, Mac Chrome 13 was the fastest browser on desktop/laptop. Then in November 2012, the fastest was Linux Chrome 19. And finally, in February 2014, the fastest browser was Linux Chrome 22. The operating systems and versions may have changed, but Chrome has without a doubt been the fastest browser in the desktop/laptop space for the last two years. On the mobile side, it looks like using a BlackBerry to surf the web is going to give you the best response time. In April 2012, BB Opera Mini 6.5 was the fastest browser. In November 2012, the BlackBerry 5 browser then took over the number one spot. And today, BlackBerry 5 still holds strong as the fastest mobile browser.

So, what’s in store for the future?

It’s probably safe to say that Chrome will still dominate as the most popular browser on desktops/laptops. It may even continue its winning streak as fastest browser (though it’s important to consider other factors like network speed, the types of pages being accessed, or the speed of the site being accessed, which can also affect page load times).

On the mobile front, however, it definitely looks like there’s a change-up going on. Android and Chrome are slowly creeping up on Safari, so by the time we pull the data for our next Browser Wars infographic, there’s a good chance Apple’s trusty browser may no longer be in the top spot as most popular. Only the data will tell…

Asami Novak is director of content strategy and development at New Relic. Prior to joining the New Relic team, she wrote marketing and ad copy for a variety of B2B and B2C companies. Her editorial writing has appeared in WIRED and Dwell, among other publications. View posts by .

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