Web Browser Market Share – Should you still support IE6?

Internet Explorer 6

Anybody who has done some serious (or even not so serious) web design work knows what a pain Internet Explorer 6 can be.

Designs that render correctly in compliant browsers such as Firefox, Chrome and Safari just do not work in IE6 (or sometimes even in IE7 and IE8). Significant rework and workarounds are often required to make a website “compliant” for IE6.

So now that we have rolled into a new year, it’s time to make a decision. Should I still attempt to make my website designs IE6 compliant (even if a client asks for it)?

Before making a rash decision, let’s look at some statistics. The following screenshots are from my Clicky Web Analytics account. I use Clicky for real-time analytics as well as Google Analytics. In a future post I’ll outline why Clicky is so useful.

It is important to note how the data is calculated. Clicky states that its Market Share data is calculated from over 200 million daily page views across the 250,000+ web sites that use Clicky Web Analytics. I was considering using my own traffic statistics for this article, but since my audience is mainly US based, it would not be a real global sample and I also have way less page views.

Now let’s examine the statistics to see the actual Web Browser Market Share data. Note that the vertical axis on all charts is percentage of market share.

Web Browsers (Global Market Share)

Web Browsers (Global Market Share)

It’s not surprising that Internet Explorer has the most market share. Most users are using a Windows OS and have not bothered to install another web browser or have been unable to due to strict corporate guidelines.

Web Browsers by Version (Global Market Share)

Web Browsers by Version (Global Market Share)

Here we can see all the major web browsers and versions. IE8 is the most popular. The statistic that I am interested in is IE6 which currently has about 4.5% global market share and is declining.

Internet Explorer (Global Market Share)

Internet Explorer (Global Market Share)

Let’s show just the global Internet Explorer statistics. IE6 & IE 7 are declining whilst IE8 is increasing market share. IE9 is only for Beta testers at this stage.

Internet Explorer (China Market Share)

Internet Explorer (China Market Share)

The main thing that you need to be aware of is that China has the most users of IE6 as shown on this chart. If you are selling products into China then you will have to support IE6.

Conclusion

Using these statistics from Clicky Web Analytics, for me personally I will not longer be supporting IE6 with any of my web design work. I won’t purposely make sites IE6 non-compliant, but if I have IE6 issues I will not be implementing any workarounds. It’s just not worth the hassle to cater for a web browser with a 4.5% and declining market share. The other thing to note that if you are selling products, I don’t think that people who are running clunky ten year old PC’s will be your target audience anyway. But if your target market is China… then you would need to continue to support IE6 since half the users there are using IE6.

Note that since March 1st 2010, Google no longer supports IE6 on its Google Docs and Google Sites services. IE users will have to upgrade to at least version 7 if they want to use those products.

Another thing to note is that web developers should not be making their designs “compliant” for certain web browsers. It should be the other way around that the web browsers must be compliant to the HTML specifications.

Now lets look at some other interesting data…

Search Engines (Global Market Share)

Search Engines (Global Market Share)

Google is completely dominating the search engine space with 90% market share. This indicates to me that it is just a waste of time to do SEO work so your site will rank higher on Yahoo or Bing.

Search Engines (China Market Share)

Search Engines (China Market Share)

But once again, it’s a different story in China. It’s basically a battle between Google and Baidu (although this mirror reversal chart does look a little suspect to me).

Update: I sent an email to Clicky Web Analytics to ask them about this abnormality in their charts and they promptly sent me a response.

Kirk, I’m the developer. My guess for the China data being strange is because we don’t have many Chinese sites registered with us. So with a very small sample size, the data is going to have big spikes in both directions like that. And since Google and Baidu are the two biggest search engines over there, when one goes up the other must come down. Sean.

Mobile Phones (Global Market Share)

Mobile Phones (Global Market Share)

What about mobile phones? What is interesting from this chart is that although iPhone sales are increasing, the actual market share usage is decreasing. The two platforms that are increasing market share are the iPad and Android devices.

Apple Products (Global Market Share)

Apple Products (Global Market Share)

When we drill down into just Apple product data, it is clear that the iPad is increasing being used as a web browser. I’ll be sure to test my websites on iPad’s from now on. I am not too concerned about making my sites suitable for iPhones since the screen real estate is just to small and I would have to implement an iPhone specific version of each site. Something to consider on a per site basis.

iPhone vs Android (Global Market Share)

iphone vs Android (Global Market Share)

This is a most interesting chart that shows the increasing market share of Android devices. As a developer I much prefer developing for Android in Java instead of the iPhone and it’s archaic Objective-C that should have been retired in the 1990’s.

Kirk is a software / web developer & business consultant. He has been doing online marketing and product development for the last eight years, and been an entrepreneur for the last five. BlogWebDesigner was created to help Internet Marketers sell more stuff online.
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