Google Chrome’s amazing growth spurt. The top web browser by June 2012?

Google ChromeWhen you research web browser statistics and trends, one thing soon becomes clear: Google Chrome is on a tear. It’s gaining users, fast. In less than three years, it has claimed more than 20% of the global web browser market and is without a doubt one of Google’s biggest success stories so far.

And the really amazing thing is that at the current rate, Chrome will overtake both Firefox and IE within a year and become the world’s most widely used web browser.

Yes, you read that right. We’ll soon explain how we got to that conclusion. (If you’re the impatient kind, scroll down to the second chart.)

The browser situation today

Today the web browser market share division worldwide looks like this:

web browser usage

Chrome is situated comfortably in third place. But what this chart doesn’t show is where things are heading, and that’s what we really want to investigate. Does it really stand a chance of passing Firefox and IE anytime soon?

Predicting the future of Chrome, IE and Firefox

Here below is what the past year looked like, plus the calculated, predicted growth of Chrome, Firefox and IE up to the end of 2012. We based the prediction on their average growth rate over the past six months.

Google Chrome prediction

Of course, reliable predictions are difficult to make for fast-moving technology like web browsers, but this is where things are currently headed. Chrome is growing like crazy while both Internet Explorer and Firefox are losing ground.

Based on the performance of the past six months:

  • Chrome will pass Firefox by November 2011.
  • Chrome will pass IE by June 2012.
  • Chrome will have in excess of 50% market share by November 2012.

“But,” you might object, “is the trend for Chrome really that strong? I don’t really see it growing that fast.”

A closer look at the growth of Chrome so far

If you have any doubts that Chrome’s market share is not only growing, but doing so at an accelerating pace, take a look at this graph showing how Chrome has fared since its launch in 2008 until today.

Google Chrome market share

The accelerating growth is clearly visible in the above graph (the increasingly sharp inclination of the curve).

Or you can just look at the numbers:

  • It took 16 months for Chrome to get to 5%.
  • Then half of that, eight months, for the next 5%.
  • So, it took Chrome 24 months to get its first 10% market share.
  • The next 10% took just 10 months.

That’s acceleration. Big time. No other web browser is showing anywhere near this kind of growth rate.

The Google advantage

If a different company than Google had released Chrome, would it have been as successful? Odds are it would at least have had a much more difficult time to get attention. Google has muscles, and above all, Google has visibility like no one else.

Online, Google of course has a huge marketing advantage over basically everyone else since it can recommend its Chrome browser on its web properties such as Google Search, YouTube, etc. Not even Facebook can compare with Google when it comes to sheer web presence, reaching over a billion users.

That said, Google has clearly built a very good and highly popular product. If people didn’t like Chrome, the browser wouldn’t be able to retain users to the extent it seems to be doing.

It will be extremely interesting to see if either Mozilla or Microsoft manages to do something to break the current trend and halt Google’s assault on the web browser market. Right now, though, things aren’t looking too good for them.

Data source: Web browser stats from StatCounter.


  1. Well, this is a perfect example that if you build a good product or service, the users will come and stick around. That Google is big and have the marketing advantage is true, but it’s not necessarily a requirement for the success of Chrome, or anything else.

  2. Does that take into account all of the people that can’t or won’t get off of IE (especially IE6)?

    If not, Chrome would just cannibalize Firefox users and end up in the same position that Firefox was in before Chrome came along – waiting for IE to slowly decline.

    1. @Michael: Sorry about that, you’re right. The chart is clearly not perfect, it’s a simple extraction. The growth for each browser was calculated separately and doesn’t fully take into consideration the usage switching from specific browsers to others. On the other hand, if that’s the case, the takeover can theoretically happen even sooner since the stats for IE and Firefox would drop faster.

  3. The fact that Google created Chrome, certainly helps their growth. However, just because their name is behind something doesn’t mean it will be an instant success. Buzz, Wave, etc.

    The reason I switched in 2008 is when I noticed the browser did not get terribly lagged after long periods of use, unlike Firefox. We got used to the lag and the errors with Firefox. As if we were in quicksand all this time without knowing it. Chrome opened our eyes.

    The reason its growing so fast is because it is truly a great product of engineering.

  4. This graph also predicts that the combined market share for Chrome, IE, and Firefox will exceed 110% by the end of 2012.

    I wonder what types of anti-users Opera and Safari will need to balance them out.

  5. Whatever. Just hope Firefox keep the nice job and keep providing the awesome features, regardless of its rank. Firefox has much more features than Chrome and should be growing more.

  6. Nice predictions! One thing that I think will make it different, though:

    With the emerge of smartphones, won’t mobile web browsers take up a huge part (at least bigger than it does today) of the browser market share by 2012? Then because there’s no Chrome for mobile devices, wouldn’t that make both Chrome, Firefox and IE drop a few percentage points, so Chrome won’t accelerate _that_ much, and Firefox and IE’s decline will be deeper, faster?

    Just a thought.

  7. @BrunoLM I don’t really user Firefox, so I’m genuinely curious, what features are you referring to? Firefox has more plugins, sure, but those aren’t really firefox features.

  8. Pingdom … You excuse your chart above by admitting that it is a “simple extraction.”. The whole article is a “simple extraction.” there’s something to be said for analyses that have more to say than “if these trends continue… Wow!”

  9. i think a diverse browser landscape is a positive…it reinforces the value of open standards. and lest anyone be concerned that firefox will “fade”….even at 20% of global users, we’re talking hundreds of millions of users.

  10. And if we extrapolate another three years at this rate, we see Chrome with 200% market share! … Oh wait, there is a problem here. Extrapolation is worthless over significant periods of time.

  11. This is a bunch of geekery shit. Chrome will take Firefox’s spot and that’s as far as it will go. Microsoft still is and will remain to be the largest operating system manufacturer and their typical user which accounts for 80% of their sales doesn’t give a damn which browser to use as long as it takes them to facebook and their email.

  12. i say its one reason above all, performance!

    chrome as awesome performance from almost day one, while firefox was first adopted because it had great performance, since then firefox has become bloated and worst disingenuous, cause they spent years saying that they don’t have memory leaks, that their browser is super fast, that its the plugins that make it slow, that its super stable, well the only thing i notice is that firefox 5 takes about 2 minutes to load on my pretty modern quad-core computer and chrome takes a couple of seconds (about 4 or 5), about every other day firefox randomly crashes, chrome stays on forever…

    sure firefox as way better sync, way more powerful extensions but chrome as better security, so performance is by far the biggest asset, firefox feels and works slow and buggy, chrome feels and works smoothly and clean.

    ps: i actually open chrome to use 1 extension (chromey calculator), if that’s not a seal of approval i don’t know what it is!

  13. @Dimitar Panov

    “Well, this is a perfect example that if you build a good product or service, the users will come and stick around”

    No, that’s not it. A good product or service is not enough.

    The reason for Chrome’s growth is simple: Google has been pushing it extremely hard all over the web.

    Remember, Google has a monopoly on online ads, and it’s using that actively to promote Chrome. Everywhere you look there are Chrome ads.

    People mention things like Wave and other failed Google products, but fail to take into account that Google never pushed them as hard as it is pushing Chrome now.

    So the reason for Chrome’s growth is simple: Insane amounts of advertising.

    Not saying it isn’t a good browser, but it’s the advertising that’s causing the growth.

  14. Classic extrapolation error. Early adopters always drive growth quickly early on. Once you start running out of early adopters and going mainstream though, growth will level out just like we saw with Firefox. All of the ‘my mother, my grandma’, corporations, etc, etc out there will not care what browser they use, and won’t switch.

  15. i dont believe that chrome will beat IE.
    Chrome will beat maybe Firefox.
    If i would believe your chart Chrome would get in few years 100 % =), maybe if Chrome OS gets released and has as standard browser chrome, and many PC getting sold with Chrome, than i think google could beat IE, but not now.

  16. I always trust statistics from people who don’t know that the word is “extrapolation” and not “extraction”.

    I hope this little piece of hyperbolic fiction got you the ad revenue you needed, but I came here using Firefox with Ad Block Plus, so you didn’t get any from me.

  17. You’re prediction model is wrong. Browser market share is a zero sum game, meaning if one browser gains, another loses. If you look at your prediction graph and add up the totals for 2012-12, you get over 100%. Moreover, it is extremely unlikely Chrome’s growth will follow the same exponential trajectory as it eats up more market share (for the same reason of the market-share being a zero sum game).

  18. There’s an old saying that “an unsustainable trend cannot be sustained.” Look for Chrome growth to slow down dramatically in the near future because most remaining IE users are in no hurry to switch. After all, if someone is still an IE user, what’s going to compel them to make the switch? Also, I don’t see a compelling reason to switch from FF to Chrome.

  19. That is really amazing but Chrome will never beat IE. There are to many people who have the bad habbit to stay with IE. They don’t want to change, the want to use something that is familiar to them.

  20. This is an interesting prediction but probably not too far off. We’ve seen an increase in popularity from the Chrome browser themes we develop in the last several months.

  21. For those of you that are reflecting on the “over 100%” you need to rethink that calculation. In these scenarios “over 100%” is likely to happen, and it should happen. Understand your users and their activity. Here is an example:

    3 users in a room,
    1 uses Chrome
    1 uses FF
    1 uses IE, Chrome, AND FF (yes, some users use more than one browser platform)

    That means Chrome has 66%, FF has 66%, and IE has 33% of the market in that room.

    It is not only possible, but very likely that the numbers should add up to more than 100%. Market share statistics always have overlap when using the number of users to determine the share (instead of sessions), and trying to reach a perfect 100% actually isn’t realistic.

    Great insight, trends are the important items to note here. THANKS!

  22. I was a very loyal Firefox user for years but decided to give Chrome a try about six months ago. Since that time, I’ve been comparing both and last month decided Chrome was for me. On my Quad 4 Dell desktop and Lenovo netbook, IE9 is a little faster with loading pages, but I just don’t like it’s look and other aspects of it. Chrome does it all, is now secure, and the only thing that would make it even a better browser would be to accept the KeyScrambler add-on, which is great with IE and Firefox.

  23. Linux is the first platform i ever worked with. I never did anything online until a friend gave me a disc that had linux free so I downloaded it. Never even heard of Linux before that. Works awesome for me though I use others too now.

  24. The rise of Chrome is indeed amazing and it is very interesting to see the users browser preferences in different geographic regions. I am just wondering why Google still refuses to add color management support to Chrome. After the release of IE9, Chrome appears to be the only browser on earth that ignores attached ICC profiles. Is that for performance reasons? I don’t know, but doesn’t Google claim that the user experience is most important?

  25. By this logic, Chrome should attain 110% market share sometime in 2014. This I don’t believe software changes to fast with the right amount of funds all browsers are the same just choose witch one you like the best!!!

  26. Watch Firefox scramble to copy Chrome in an attempt not to lose any market share, and destroy its product in the process.

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