EXCLUSIVE DATA: Five Years of Browser Usage and Mobile Growth on Techvibes.com [INFOGRAPHIC]

As Techvibes broadens its horizons in both scope of content and detail of research, we’ve realized that we’re increasingly becoming a source for other media outlets. For example, data from our continuously updated Acquisitions Tracker is now regularly cited in major publications such as Bloomberg. In 2012, Techvibes intends to reinforce itself as Canada’s leading online technology media property and a reliable source for startup and digital culture news and analysis across the country.

Significant projects like the First Annual Canadian Startup Awards solidify not only Techvibes as a salient force in Canada’s tech scene, but also helps establish Canada’s tech scene as a salient force itself. As well, we wish to break down opacity barriers to allow our readers a deeper insight into real statistics with true value. New in 2011, custom, handcrafted infographics were published to visualize key Canadian tech statistics, such as illuminating our country’s amazing video game industry. Today, we’re unveiling our first infographic based on our own internal site numbers—a bold move dared by few in the industry.

The focus of this data breakdown is browser usage and mobile growth. 2011 is what many have dubbed “the year of mobile”—although based on most current trends, that’s more likely to be 2012 or even 2013, since experts consider mobile as still in its infancy stage. It could also be dubbed “the year of Google,” with Android continuing to gain impressive global traction and Chrome absolutely killing the browser space in North America. Whatever 2011 may be labelled as—perhaps “the year of a hundred different titles”—we’ve wound the clock much further back than a single year for this; our data spans a half-decade, all the way back to when Techvibes as you know it today launched (the brand, in some fashion or another, has existed since 2002).


Browser usage has been an interesting roller coaster to follow. In 2007, Internet Explorer was decidedly dominant, accounting for 65% of all web traffic. The young Firefox had planted roots with 28%, and Apple’s Safari was still a niche browser with just 4%. But things changed fast, as they tend to do in the tech world.

In 2008, Explorer plunged a deep 15%, just narrowly clinging onto half of the traffic share. Firefox gobbled up nearly all of Explorer’s losses, climbing 11% to account for 39% of all web traffic. Safari almost doubled its share, rising to 7%, and Google launched Chrome in the autumn, which managed 3% in its first year.

2009 saw Firefox eclipse Explorer (and convincingly so). IE sunk another 13% while all three of its competitors gained. Firefox lost a lot of momentum, gaining just 2%, but that put it at 41% of all traffic, ahead of IE. Safari maintained its consistent growth (3% again), reaching double-digits at 10%. And so did Chrome, with the year’s most stunning growth—a remarkable jump of 7%.

It is very unlikely that Firefox expected Chrome to have such a devastating effect so quickly. But Chrome’s doubled growth, from 10% to 20%, pushed Firefox down by 6%, its first drop in web traffic share. At 35%, it still kept ahead of IE, which fell another 5% to 32%. Safari squeezed in some modest growth, up 1% to 11%.

This year was identical to 2010 in terms of trends: IE plummeted yet again and Firefox bled some more while Safari grew gradually and Chrome continued to explode. Explorer dropped 7% to just 25%, down a whopping 40% from 2007. Firefox fell 9% to 26%, down 2% from 2007 and 15% from its 2009 peak. Safari once again experienced modest gains, climbing a single percent to 12, while Chrome saw its biggest growth yet, capturing just under a third of all web traffic (32%). In just 3 short years, Google’s browser gained 32%. In 5 years, Apple’s browser gained a respectable 8%—far below Firefox’s growth, but notably immune to Chrome’s devouring of market share for 3 consecutive years.

(Please note that percentages do not always equal 100 because numbers are rounded and browsers with negligible traffic below 1% are not identified.)


Sure, BlackBerrys have been around for over a decade, and other semi-smart mobile devices have been around since long before then. But the idea of casually surfing your favourite parts of the web on a phone? That’s still a relatively new phenomenon. And it shows in the data.

In 2007, mobile traffic was negligible if not entirely non-existent. Accounting for a tiny fraction of a percentage of our total traffic, there was nothing to even analyze. And it would largely remain this way: in 2008, just half a percent of traffic came from mobile. Even in 2009, less than one percent of traffic to Techvibes was from a mobile device. Then things changed abruptly.

2010 marked the year where smartphones started to become mainstream—where non-business executives bought BlackBerrys and more average joes splurged on new-fangled iPhones and Android gadgets. As a result, mobile data more than tripled to 2.5% of our traffic. Suddenly, mobile was starting to matter.

This year would continue that trend, accelerating mobile’s growth. In 2011, a full 7% of traffic to Techvibes came from mobile devices, nearly triple the number from just one year before. A driving factor for the growth was tablets, primarily the iPad: the larger screens of these flashy new devices proved brilliant for surfing the web in an easier and more fun way than ever before—and it was more convenient, too, to do so from one’s couch, bed, or even toilet. (Check out our mobile app, launched this year.)


Everyone likes to exagerate projections a little for the sake of excitement, but we don’t honestly expect any major surprises in these two spaces in 2012. Chrome is very likely to grow by at least a few percent, while Explorer is almost certainly guaranteed to erode further, despite Microsoft’s best efforts to keep it relevant. Safari will gain slightly if it moves at all, and Firefox is apt to lose a bit more share to Chrome. New browsers such as Rockmelt won’t make any big waves next year, remaining niches, as all new browsers first do. And mobile? Well, it’s just getting warmed up. We wouldn’t be surprised if mobile traffic cracked the double-digit mark as smartphones become commonplace and tablets grow in ubiquity.