So, there are 5 main web browsers in use in the market; they are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera. There is plenty of choice out there. From an Internet warrior and developer I have some personal preferences. I would rate them as:
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer
Firefox is a fantastic web browser. It is stable, efficient and comes with a plethora of add-ons to extend your online experience. As a web developer it is the only way to go, it just makes development so much easier and then with the web developer add-ons life is a dream.
Chrome is simple and feels like you are surfing the Internet on turbo. There are still some bugs I have picked up in Chrome when navigating to certain websites which frustrates me when I have to switch browsers to view a site correctly.
Internet Explorer comes in third only because it is the default browser on most computers. To be honest, it is a nightmare browser to use and particularly to develop for. I often have sleepless nights wondering why people choose to use it when there are other free and better solutions out there (do people just like to run in a herd?). The fact that certain South African banks online banking would only allow you to us IE is enough to make one pull their hair out (not so much anymore as they are realising that they can't produce a product for 1 web browser).
Safari I will only use as a last resort. I just do not enjoy the experience.
The biggest issue I have with Internet Explorer is how incompatible it is. When building websites there is a constant fight to make a site compatible across all web browsers. I can write a site testing it in Firefox and the site will operate 100% in all the other browsers except IE. I would then have to make special allowances to make the site work in IE. Not only that, but IE does not like to support some of the web technologies out there. One can create a site with amazing looks in Firefox and Chrome yet they fall short in IE. I would love to ignore IE when I test my websites for cross browser compatibility, however, as you will see below this is not possible.
Web browser stats
Below, figure 1, we can see the global web browser market share for September 2010. You can see that the 2 main big players are still IE and Firefox (hence one has to at least make sure their website is compatible with these 2 browsers)
Figure 1: Web browser market share for September 2010 (source: www.w3counter.com)
If compared to the stats for May 2007, one can see the dramatic drop in IE's market share – with the introduction of Google Chrome.
|Figure 2: Web browser market share for May 2007 (source: www.w3counter.com)|
These stats where encouraging as I prefer to develop a website for Firefox and Chrome, yet IE is still the biggest player. I then took this a step further and wanted to get an idea of web browser usage in South Africa. I could not find a direct source of information on this so I analysed the data from over 30 Google Analytics accounts.
|Figure 3: Web browser usage in South Africa from our clients Google Analytics statistics:|
It's interesting to see from the graph above that IE still has a large market share in SA compare globally. A big reason for this could be that most people in SA make use of the Internet at the office. Most offices only have the default applications installed, thus the use of IE.
Web users and penetration
Understanding and analysing web usage / penetration in South Africa gives us an idea of the local online growth. The more users thus more traffic thus more potential business and sharing of content online.
At the moment South Africa's Internet usage sits at 10.8% of the population (source).
I feel this is still rather small considering the Internet usage for the whole of Africa is 10.9% and we are meant to be one of the biggest players on the continent.
|Figure 4: South African Internet usage and population statistics (source)|
I then thought it would be interesting to compare us to a few of our neighbours.
|Figure 5: source – www.google.com|
One can analyse the statistics in a hundred ways. But when I look at it briefly I can see South Africa has adopted the Internet for longer, however, I feel the growth has remained rather consistent compared to other countries within Africa. Interesting that Zimbabwe is a 4th of our population and the number of their Internet users is higher. So are Egypt's and Nigeria's and their population is double and triple ours respectively.
Hopefully with the huge drop in broadband pricing we will see our Internet Users grow quickly so that our local online market grows. A strengthening of our Internet infrastructure, more and faster ADSL lines and 3G signal that you can get anywhere, would certainly help too.