Why isn't Google Chrome losing market share?
Google's Chrome web browser is the dominating web browser on desktop and on mobile. Statcounter, one of the leading third-party trackers of usage, lists the worldwide market share of Chrome by 66.14% on desktop and 64.31% on mobile in December 2022.
Compared to the browser's market share at the beginning of 2022, where Statcounter saw it at 65.38% and 62.06% respectively, it even managed to gain. These fluctuations may be attributed to the imprecise method of monitoring usage over time. Stats fluctuate from one month to the other.
If you look at trends, you may notice that Chrome's market share remained stable throughout 2022. Why is that? Why are not browsers such as Firefox, Brave, Opera or Vivaldi able to capture a larger percentage of the market?
Multiple factors play a role. To begin, it is important to look at the two main markets: desktop and mobile.
The situation is clear on mobile. Google Chrome is the default web browser on many Android devices. In fact, if you remove Safari, which is the de-facto only mobile browser on Apple devices, then Chrome's dominance becomes even more apparent. Safari had a global mobile market share of 23.55, but the browser is not available for Android. The next Android browser is Samsung's Internet browser; it has a market share of 5.06%. There is virtually no competition on Android regarding web browsers.
It is more complicated on desktop. Chrome has a commanding lead on desktop as well, even though Google's operating system ChromeOS plays barely any roll on desktop. Microsoft with Windows and Apple with macOS dominate desktop. There is also Linux, but it plays less of a role when you look at the market share.
Apple does well with Safari on macOS, but it plays no role on Windows or Linux. Chrome leads on Windows, and even though Microsoft Edge is the default web browser on Windows, it managed to rise from 9.54% in January 2022 to 10.98% in December 2022 only. The rise came at the expense of other browsers, Firefox in particular, which lost a bit of market share according to Statcounter.
Why is Chrome dominating on Windows, even though Microsoft Edge is the default browser? Here, several factors are at play:
- Chrome has been recommended for years, especially in the beginning, as it promised better speed and security over other browsers available at the time.
- Chrome offers good compatibility, reliability, protection against security issues and speed.
- Google services sometimes run better in Chrome, either because of new APIs that Chrome supports and others don't, or work that Google puts into improving its services for other browsers.
- Google focused on speed and getting developers on board initially.
- Google is using its dominance on the Web to promote Chrome exclusively on its properties.
- Chrome is available on desktop and on mobile, and syncing works well.
- Google has not modified the interface of the browser or its core functionality significantly in the past.
If you combine these factors, you end up with a fast browser that works well on the Internet, syncs between all devices, and is reliable when it comes to the user interface.
Even with plenty of great browsers to try, many of which are based on the same core as Chrome and offering more and better functionality, it appears that the majority of users keep on using Chrome. Why change something that works?
There is little chance that another browser will come along that is making such a big impact as Chrome did back when it was released. Most browser are based on Chromium, the code that Chrome uses. Even Microsoft, one of the biggest tech companies in the world, decided to use Chromium as the source for its new browser.
There are few companies left with the financial power and capabilities to produce a brand new browser that is not based on Chromium.
Chrome could see a reduction in market share when Google makes mistakes or implements strategies that are not in the best interests of users. Manifest V3 could be such a disruptive event, but Google modified it several times already to make the blow to certain types of extensions less painful or even noticeable at all.
It seems unlikely that the situation will change much in 2023.
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