Mobile Browsing Around The World

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

I find it fas­ci­nat­ing to see the vari­ance in brows­er use in the diverse regions of the world, and nowhere is that vari­ance more appar­ent than in mobile web browsers. While in the West we may be used to Chrome and Safari being more or less the only game in town, else­where in the world the sto­ry is quite dif­fer­ent. In this arti­cle I’m going to take a look at a few charts which illus­trate that difference.

The stats used here are col­lect­ed from the 30 days pri­or to 25th August, tak­en from StatCounter.com. They come with the usu­al dis­claimer about the impos­si­bil­i­ty of get­ting com­plete­ly accu­rate data, and don’t always include fea­ture phone browsers, so should there­fore be treat­ed as indica­tive rather than con­clu­sive. With the caveats out of the way, let’s begin.

Start­ing with Europe, we can see that Chrome dom­i­nates, with 44.5% of the mar­ket. I think it’s safe to pre­sume that most of these come from Android devices, and the ‘stock’ Android brows­er (I know, there’s no such thing) adds anoth­er 16.5% to that share. Safari, on iOS, is the sec­ond most used mobile brows­er in the region, with a 27.6% share. IE Mobile and Opera run a dis­tant fourth and fifth, respec­tive­ly. Sit­ting in sev­enth place with a 1% share – low­er even than Black­ber­ry – is UC Brows­er; I’d imag­ine most peo­ple in this region prob­a­bly won’t have heard of it, but it’s much big­ger in oth­er mar­kets, as will be shown shortly.

StatCounter-browser-eu-daily-20150726-20150824-bar

In North Amer­i­ca it’s some­what dif­fer­ent. Chrome drops to sec­ond place with 39.2%, and even com­bin­ing that fig­ure with the Android browser’s 9.2% only bare­ly exceeds Safari’s dom­i­nant 45.5% in this con­ti­nent. IE Mobile and Opera again round out the top five, but with less than half the share they own in Europe. UC Brows­er beats Black­ber­ry, but still strug­gles to gain slight­ly over 1%.

StatCounter-browser-na-daily-20150726-20150824-bar

Oceania’s sto­ry is quite sim­i­lar, although here Safari has an even more dom­i­nant 53.5% share, much bet­ter than even Chrome’s 30.9% and Android Browser’s 9.8% com­bined. UC Brows­er does a lit­tle bet­ter with 1.9%, IE Mobile is in fifth with 1.6%. Opera is almost invis­i­ble here.

StatCounter-browser-oc-daily-20150726-20150824-bar

In South Amer­i­ca, Android is even more dom­i­nant than in Europe. Chrome has 52.7% share, and Android Brows­er, 20.4%. Safari gets just 11%, above Opera with 6.8%. IE Mobile has its largest share in any mar­ket, with 5.2%, while UC Brows­er gets 2%.

StatCounter-browser-sa-daily-20150726-20150824-bar

The first big vari­ance from the Android / Apple duop­oly comes in Asia. Chrome still has the biggest share with 29.8% and Android Brows­er is third with 15.9%, but sec­ond place is tak­en by UC Brows­er with 25% share — its largest in any mar­ket. UC Brows­er uses data com­pres­sion on images, videos and oth­er assets, a valu­able ser­vice in parts of Asia where net­work con­nec­tiv­i­ty is patchy and data plans can be expen­sive. Opera, which also has advanced data com­pres­sion fea­tures, does well here too, with 13.8% of the mar­ket. Safari comes in fifth with 9.9%.

StatCounter-browser-as-daily-20150726-20150824-bar

The biggest out­lier is in Africa, where Opera has an enor­mous 58.7% share, again due to the impor­tance of its data com­pres­sion fea­tures in coun­tries with vari­able or lim­it­ed access to net­work and data. Chrome and Android Brows­er come a dis­tant sec­ond and third with 15.2% and 9.6% respec­tive­ly. Africa pro­vides UC Brows­er with its sec­ond-high­est share in any mar­ket: 5.8%. Blackberry’s 3.4% share nar­row­ly beats out Safari’s 3.3%, its low­est show­ing in any market.

StatCounter-browser-af-daily-20150726-20150824-bar

What con­clu­sions can we draw from these sta­tis­tics? Fire­fox is a lame duck on mobile, not man­ag­ing even a sin­gle per­cent­age point in any mar­ket. IE Mobile fares bet­ter, but not much; while I’m sur­prised that Black­ber­ry still man­ages sin­gle fig­ures in some markets.

If you take only one les­son from these fig­ures, it’s that if you’re mak­ing a web­site for a glob­al mar­ket you should real­ly be test­ing on Opera and UC Brows­er, espe­cial­ly their proxy editions.

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“Mobile Browsing Around The World”

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