I was Born in a Cross-Browser Hurricane
It really has become a cross-browser world, and for many legacy Web applications that might not be such a gas. Just a couple of years ago, I might hear once or twice a month about a Web application that would only run correctly in Internet Explorer (and wince a little). Today's Web applications have to work equally well in Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Google Chrome and Apple Safari. And for users, it's not enough that they just work, they have to be fast and feel-good as well.
The shift in browser share is pretty astounding. Take a look at the share numbers for November and December of 2012:
Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share
If your website only works well in IE, it's time to re-architect and fast!
While the absolute share numbers in North America are not as alarming, the trend remains the same.
These statistics are great for identifying trends. For application designers and developers what they show best is which browsers are used so little that you don't really need to support them. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari represent too large a portion of the browsing community for any significant application to ignore.
From looking at the graph, you probably don't need to worry about Opera, and Safari can be last on your list for testing. But really, if it works in Chrome it will likely work in Safari, since both are built on Webkit, an open source Web browser engine.
Webkit may very well represent the shift in the market that may isolate Internet Explorer even further. In fact, Opera just announced that it's moving its mobile browser to WebKit. This means that the ONLY browsers that are not WebKit-based are Windows devices.
The shift from desktops to mobile devices further quarantines IE as compared to Chrome, Safari and Opera. WebKit is quickly becoming the one that everyone will develop and test for first.
Is WebKit becoming the Connor MacLeod, The Highlander, for mobile? Can there be only one?
We pay close attention to these important trends here at AlertSite by SmartBear, and our global monitoring network now supports Firefox, IE and Chrome browsers as native Web performance monitoring sensors. This advancement represents what is happening with the use of browsers in the market, and means that our DejaClick Web transaction recorder can playback recordings for Web performance monitoring of Web pages and multistep Web transactions in all three browsers.
When I look at this data, I see a couple things. The first is that Internet Explorer appears to be in secular decline. I'm not saying that a giant like Microsoft is just going to disappear, however, the trend speaks for itself. Perhaps it's time for Steve Ballmer to move on and let some fresher, hipper blood take over before it's too late. More importantly, what I see is that Chrome has become the most popular browser worldwide. Personally, I'm a Chrome user on both OS X and Windows, locking it down as my preferred browser.
Here's a quick demonstration of me running through a couple of pages on the SmartBear website using our TestonDemand capability:
If you want to see how your website is performing in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, start a free trial by clicking the button below!