Monday, November 9, 2009

Browser Market Share Among IT Professionals - A Statistically Insignificant & Questionable Analysis

I realize as I write this post that I am officially a geek. I not only have an IT blog, but I am using Google Analytics to create reports and track how many people are visiting the blog, where they live, what type of internet service they have, and what browser they are using. It is this last bit of evidence on browsers that made me think to write this post.

I know that my sample is not large enough to be significant (around 270 unique visitors), and I know there is no way to verify that the people visiting are IT professionals. But, I was surprised at the percentages of users using non-IE browsers. I knew that Firefox had taken a large share of the market, but I was surprised that Chrome and Safari both had about a 5% share in my sample. Here is the breakdown:

Comparing this to recent broswer market share stats here, I found that my stats showed a greater loss (> 10% more) for IE. Based on this information and personal experience at the company I work for, I am going to postulate that IT professionals are switching browsers at a much faster rate than less technical users.

Ok, obvious right? But, the real question I began asking myself is what are the reasons that peole switch or don't switch. Why do people prefer IE, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari? If there really is a "Best" browser, what is keeping everyone from switching?

Well, I don't have all the answers, but I can at least explain why where I work only IT users use browsers other than IE.

We participate in around 6 security audits every year. All of these audits require patch management (preferably automated), approved software lists, vulnerability assessments, etc. Why does this matter? Well, I haven't done extensive research, but I am not aware of any free way to automate the deployment of patches from a central server and receive reports on the results of these deployments for non-IE browsers. I am not saying that this necessarily makes IE more secure or a better solution, but with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and WSUS reporting it makes it much easier to provide evidence for audits.

Combine the deployment and reporting issues with the fact that many websites both external and internal (third-party web-based apps) are not written to be compatible with all browsers. Add the fact that more browsers (or versions/brands of software in general) means more training and increased support calls, and it makes more sense to only allow one browser.

However, software developers need to be able to test web applications for compatibility with multiple browsers, and support personnel may need to support users from home that may use unapproved browsers. Therefore, IT personnel are allowed (approved) to install and use non-IE browsers.

So, what I am wondering now is if this is true for other organizations, what is the true browser market share?



1 comment:

  1. I'm actually not very surprised by this. I have watched the statistics for web traffic on sites that I own and see IE's market-share dwindling down seemingly every month. A snapshot of the last month on one of the sites shows IE's share as only 41%. That's a sampling of 250k visits and this site is for non-technical users. That number last year was 57%.