Two Reports Show Two Winners in Browser Race
July 2, 2012

Two Reports Show Two Winners In Browser Race

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

Both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Google Chrome can claim the lead in browser market share for the month of June. Each browser emerged in the lead in one of two separate reports. StatCounter Global Stats puts Chrome just above Internet Explorer while data from NetMarketShare puts Internet Explorer in a clear lead.

Microsoft Internet Explorer holds 54 percent of the market, according to data on the NetMarketShare website. Google Chrome is building at 19 percent of the market, and Mozilla Firefox sits at 20 percent.

It seems a concise victory for Microsoft. Yet a contradicting report from a competing company that monitors internet traffic, StatCounter, has observed data detailing a clear lead for Google's browser, though the numbers are much closer. Chrome finished June with the week ending July 1 with 33.15 percent of the market while Internet Explorer ended the month with 32.41 percent of the market.

Both companies have differing methodologies in collecting data. NetMarketShare collects data from the browsers of site visitors in the company's on-demand network of live stats customers - in other words, web sites that have registered to use NetMarketShare to track users. NetMarketShare estimates that it tracts roughly 160 million visitors per month, then publishes numbers in aggregate of the data from its network.

StatCounter bases its global stats on aggregate data collected on a sample of over 15 billion page views per month collected from the StatCounter network of more than three million websites. Again, the StatCounter network is comprised of websites registered with StatCounter, which in turn receive data on site visitors, and compares data to traffic on comparable sites in an aggregate form.

StatCounter and NetMarketShare both base their data on the theory that a larger sample size generally leads to results that are more reliable. Information on the StatCounter website details how browser stats are tracked. "We track which browsers are actually used most," the site states on its information page. "To accurately measure browser usage, we base our stats on page views (and not unique visitors). This means we take account of how frequently browsers are used and we also track multi-browser usage by individuals."

Such widely differing data calls out the possibility that the same user might switch browsers in a given day. StatCounter makes efforts to track unique users across all browsers, and accounts for the same user on a different browser. Such tracking can be done by looking at IP addresses and other telling data, yet there are cases where a user might be using multiple computers, or other events might skew the numbers.

Another possible explanation for Google Chrome's jump in numbers in the past month is a change in how StatCounter tracks that particular browser. Starting on May 1, 2012, StatCounter stopped looking at pre-rendered pages, which are not actually viewed. It would seem that stats on the Google Chrome browser would go down when non-viewed, pre-rendered pages were excluded from data, but actually gave Google's browser the edge over competing browsers.