The rise of Chrome, the decline of Firefox?

By Razib Khan | December 2, 2011 12:07 am

There’s been extensive reporting in the media on the rise of Chrome, and the decline of Firefox, based on StatCounter data. I’ve got access to four weblog analytics, one of them going back to 2006. I see the same trend. It’s real. What I don’t understand is the lack of acknowledgment of the continued stagnation and decline of the Internet Explorer franchise. The magnitude of the downward slope of IE usage is about twice as large as that of Firefox. There is presumably a floor of IE usage of those who don’t download Firefox, Chrome, etc., when they get their Windows machine. But I would contend there is is also a floor of Firefox users, who are attached to particular extensions and features which are unique to Firefox. And, these Firefox users are probably much more fundamentally loyal to their product than IE users. So it will be interesting to observe the long term trend, and see if Chrome eats into IE or Firefox usage more in the future.


Comments (12)

  1. There are other factors as well. Workplace computers using a Windows OS will have IE and, depending on the tech policy of the employer, the employee might not be able to use anything but. I am provided a laptop by the school at which I teach, but I am not allowed to download/install anything. Therefore, I am stuck with IE, which I despise.

    And just to clarify, these analytics actually measure usage? For example, my home computer has IE preloaded, but I never use it, so it doesn’t count me as a user, correct? Thanks.

  2. Darkseid

    the new FF is a little slow but i don’t want to have to find all the add-ons for chrome. i’m sure it’s faster but i don’t even know if all 10 of the add-ons exist for Chome in the first place – i already have everything just the way i want it.

  3. Jason

    I apologize that I’m too busy this morning to find the links (I believe some are on Lifehacker), but in many tests the new FF is no slower than Chrome. I believe Chrome still wins on Javascript (one of the more important ones) and due to the way Chrome handles extensions it generally wins on cold starts (though I could be wrong there).

    Personally, I prefer the level of UI customization capable in FF. Furthermore, with Google already owning most of my life (my e-mail, my chat, my phone, my searches) I figure letting a seemingly friendly organization like Mozilla own my browsing is preferable.

  4. pconroy

    Chrome is much faster than IE and faster then FF, so is my go-to browser. However using a myriad systems, intranets, extranets, I rely on FF’s feature to save passwords securely. If Chrome had this one feature, I’d never use FF again. I haven’t used IE in a few years.

  5. Navaneeth

    Most linux distributions use Firefox(Iceweasel in debian) by default. And most don’t bother changing or don’t know how, so that probably counts as a floor too.

  6. juan

    I’ve been using FF and Chrome side-by-side for the last couple years. Recently I’ve been using Chrome more. Why? Because Google Docs has become slow and buggy under FF.

    Any chance Google is playing dirty tricks there? I’ve migrated most of my online work to Google Docs over the last couple years, using FF 95%+ of the time to edit those docs. In the past few months I started having more serious and more frequent issues with Google Docs under FF – slow updating, being forced to reload, stuck on “trying to reach Google” error messages.. These problems don’t seem to occur with Chrome. Some of my larger spreadsheets have become unusable under FF, but work fine under Chrome.

    The history of software and platform development indicates that Google has a strong incentive to make their Office suite (Google Docs) work better on their platform (Chrome) than competing platforms. I’m not sure if any company that has faced this same issue and incentive structure (ie Microsoft, Apple, IBM) has ever been able to resist behaving dishonorably.

  7. S.J. Esposito

    I attribute the lack of attention given to the tumbling trend of IE to the fact that it’s widely regarded as a built-in Windows component and nothing more. I think, as you mentioned Razib, that there is a flooring effect, but it’s also about marketing. The method of delivery for IE is very different than Chrome and Firefox, which are products one has to download by choice.

  8. I use both Firefox and Chrome concurrently, but Firefox is my main browser. It has an advantage in extensions; Chrome doesn’t have Perapera-kun to my knowledge, for example. I’m also more fond of how Firefox handles text highlighting and the fact that it is less likely to display non-Western characters as boxes.

  9. William Sears

    I have switched over to chrome because of a recurrent back-click problem with IE ( It seems to have something to do with Google ads and piles up in the history section. Now that I have become used to chrome I prefer it. Whose fault the back-click problem is I would not hazard to say. My windows 7 operating system came with both chrome and IE (32 & 64 bit) and so the switch over was easy.

  10. DK

    FF is a hog and its cold start time is nothing short of absolutely pathetic but it’s still a browser I use most. Already in version 1.0.3, various extensions and huge amount of customization made me a browser that was capable of almost all of the new features that appeared in later versions (I am still using FF3.5 and have absolutely no desire to upgrade). With FF, I can make browser to be exactly what I want it to be (because its interface is XML/CSS-based, it is infinitely hackable). With Chrome, I have to learn what Google folks think is best for me. No thanks, MS and Apple already tried to do it and I didn’t like it one bit.

    In rare cases when FF fails to render something properly I use IE. Since IE8 stole a lot from FF and Opera, it is actually perfectly usable. Inflexible and a bit slow but usable.

  11. Douglas Knight

    While the WSJ doesn’t mention the fast decline of IE, its graph agrees with yours, though sandwiching FF makes it hard to read.

    I’ve seen a lot of these graphs and they are usually quite sensitive to the particular website. I’m surprised your data agrees so well with StatCounter.

  12. I use both FF and Chrome but I have the security settings higher on Chrome because I consider it more of a privacy risk. On the other hand I use Chrome more because it is faster to start up and less of a memory hog.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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