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A few months back I conducted a small poll on this web site asking visitors to choose the best from five of the most popular web browsers in the world today. Though the question was kind of mundane (Which is the best web browser?), the fallout is quite interesting – it probably points a finger at the world’s favourite or most popular web browser.

I had picked the top 5 most used browsers as per the web browser statistics – Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera. Here are the results of the poll when it crossed the 1000 votes mark.

Popular web browsers in the world - as determined by a small poll

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April 10th, 2009: Out of a total of 1860 votes, it was no surprise that Firefox got the highest (707 or 38%). Google Chrome was the runners up registering 619 (or 33%) of the total. Apparently, Internet Explorer was still regarded as the best web browser by 203 voters (11%). Following I.E. very closely was Opera with 200 votes (11%) and Safari came in last with 7%.

Most used, the best or the most popular web browser – these are just some terms

At the time of writing, Internet Explore from Microsoft is the most used web browser. However, it is the most popular? Is it the best? These are some questions that cannot be quantified so easily. For instance, though people on this web site voted Fiefox as the best browser, the same poll conducted on a Windows centric web site would probably not have produced the same results – at least, Google’s Chrome would not have come second. So what defines popularity? How can we know which is the favourite web browser?

These are the usage statistics of the same browsers for the same period of time I conducted the poll.

Browser name Percentage usage
Internet Explorer 47.1
Firefox 42.5
Safari 3.8
Chrome 3.5
Opera 2.2

Thus, even though, 47.1.% people who came to this web site were on Internet Explorer, they either didn’t consider it the best web browser (why were they using it?) or simply didn’t vote. Also, only the 3.5% Chrome users could manage to rank the web browser as the second best. So, the point I’m trying to make is – can’t we use these numbers to know which is the most popular web browser – the favourite web browser of the user – because they will vote for it? Obviously, the assumption is that people will generally vote for something they like.

The popularity factor of a web browser

Let me now coin a phrase – web browser popularity factor. I don’t think it exists… conducted a quick web search. Now to identify the most popular web browser, one simply needs to divide the votes cast for it in the poll by the percentage of visitors using it and then normalizing the results by the least value.

Important: This is not a serious study (puhlease!); the aim was to work with some numbers to come up with interesting and tongue-in-cheek conclusions. I really don’t care if you are a learned statistician and think of this as utter nonsense, though I would really like if you wrote back and pointed me in the correct direction or just to hear your thoughts.

The most popular web browser amongst the top 5 as found on this site

Browser name Popularity factor
Chrome 41.14
Opera 21.14
Safari 8.02
Firefox 3.86
Internet Explorer 1

The trend is almost the opposite of usage. In the top most popular browsers, Google Chrome and Opera come up at the top and can probably be regarded as the world’s most popular web browsers – or favourite browsers.

Note #1: I had thought of removing the “which is the best web browser” poll from the site once the number of responses crosses a thousand but it’s great fun to watch the voting process and I’m going to keep it running. The figures mentioned above will certainly change over time.

Note #2: You may also be interested in which is the fastest web browser as per some online tests that check browser speed.

March 7th, 2010 – UPDATE

It’s been 11 months since the article was posted and I suppose things would have changed quite a bit. As of today (March 7th 2010), this poll has registered more than 14,000 votes; a big number, right? Let us see if the trends have continued – Polldaddy.com, the service I use for generating these polls has also changed the layout and color of the pie chart.

Most popular web browser - an update after 13 months

Browser % usage # of votes Popularity factor
I.E. 52.92 1562 1
Firefox 31.69 5564 5.95
Safari 3.98 1312 11.17
Chrome 8.36 3802 15.41
Opera 1.65 1790 36.75

Opera is now the clear-cut winner. With just 1.65% of site visitors using this browser, it’s gathered 1790 votes. My favorite Google Chrome comes second with Apple Safari not far behind. This means that even though Chrome has got more users over these months, it hasn’t registered as big an increase in votes… pity! Anyway, the truth lies in the figures given below.

March 11th, 2011 – Update

There is no disputing the fact that Opera has been the most popular web browser the past year. It now has a score of 58.36.

Voting results for the five most popular web browsers

Browser % usage # of votes Popularity factor
I.E. 48.41 4267 1
Firefox 25.07 14869 6.73
Safari 6.88 3379 5.57
Chrome 15.20 14669 10.95
Opera 1.51 5144 58.36
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