Since it was launched in 2008, Google’s Chrome browser has been steadily gaining share against Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. And for one day last week, Sunday March 18, Chrome was the most used browser in the world, according to newly released stats.
The Wednesday announcement of Chrome’s brief rise to No. 1 last Sunday was made by Irish metrics firm StatCounter.
While it’s only a one-day event, “this is a milestone,” Aodhan Cullen, the CEO of StatCounter, said in an interview. Chrome still faces a tough battle to unseat its main rivals, including IE and Firefox, in many regions of the world. Chrome remains in an often distant 2nd or 3rd place in China, the U.S., and Germany.
“The long term trend has certainly been for Chrome gaining market share, but there is no guarantee it’s going to become the No. 1 browser,” Cullen said.
Cullen declined to predict when the switch might come, but StatCounter’s own numbers say Chrome is gaining an average of about 2 percentage points a month on IE, over the past year. That means at its current rate of growth, Chrome would become the world’s top browser sometime in the June to July period.
There also is a great deal of uncertainty about such measurements. They are based on a relatively small sample of total web use (15 billion page views per month, including 4 billion from the US), and there is also a dispute about methodology.
But one fascinating trend unearthed by StatCounter was the surge in use Chrome gets on weekends, and the corresponding drop in the use of Internet Explorer, when people are apparently not sitting at their office computers and have more freedom to choose their browser.
While the useage of Firefox, Opera and Apple’s Safari browser don’t fluctuate much between weekdays and weekends, there is a huge ebb and flow between IE and Chrome, suggesting that people are switching between Microsoft weekdays and Google weekends.
“That’s really interesting,” Cullen said in an interview. “It’s just an indication that when people have the choice at home, they are using Chrome, and when the go back to work, and your browser choice is indicated by company policy, people are using Microsoft.”
“Whether Chrome can take the lead in the browser wars in the long term remains to be seen, however the trend towards Chrome useage at weekends is undeniable. At weekends, when people are free to choose what browser to use, many of them are selecting Chrome in preference to IE,” Cullen said.
The movement to Chrome is of under appreciated significance for Google, because Chrome is the keystone of its cloud-based strategy. It’s also significant for Google’s revenue picture, because Google does not have to pay search advertising Traffic Acquisition Costs to Mozilla, Apple or other browser-makers for searches made from Chrome browsers.