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Browser and OS trends visitor trends at Radio NZ

Yesterday I took a look back at browser and OS usage changes over the last couple of years to evaluate any useful trends.

Here are the browser stats from the last month, and the same period 1 & 2 year’s ago:

Type 2007 2008 2009
IE 70% 65% 58%
Firefox 22% 27% 27%
Safari 4% 5.4% 8.6%
Chrome 3.1%
Opera .93% 1% .96%

IE version 5.x is virtually extinct.

Looking at the underlying data I’d draw the following conclusions:

  • IE use is on the decline generally, and IE users are the slowest at upgrading
  • Firefox usage appears to have plateaued (and they are the fastest to upgrade)
  • Most growth is in new browser entrants.
  • There is greater market fragmentation (more choice for consumers)

There are also changes in Operating Systems (using the same periods):

Type 2007 2008 2009
Windows 91.8% 90.4% 86.6%
Macintosh 7% 8% 10.7%
GNU/Linux .98% 1.3% 1.83%
iPhone .06% 0.33%

Around 73% of Windows users still use XP, and only 56% of Mac users are on OSX 10.5. The lower rate of Mac upgrades could limited by hardware restrictions.

For many website developers these figures will represent a significant challenge – you can no longer design your website for any one browser or OS. The days of ‘best viewed in browser X’ are gone.

And yes, I still see sites that only work in IE. I went to get an on-line quote for something last week, and the site simply would not work in Firefox or Safari. I took my business elsewhere. The average punter isn’t going to know why – they’ll just think the site doesn’t work. Is this the branding message you want to send to visitors?

Based on these stats, failing to design cross-platform websites will give at least 15% of your users an inferior experience. That is a lot of lost traffic (and business).

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