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9/26/2012
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Google Chrome Second String On Tablets, Smartphones

Android and iOS device users overwhelmingly prefer the stock browser on their mobile devices, where Google's Chrome browser barely registers, study says.

Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features
Apple iOS 6: 10 Most Interesting Features
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Google's Chrome browser has steadily chewed through the market share of Microsoft's Internet Explorer on desktop and laptop computers, but its success on smartphones and tablets has so far been limited. Data compiled by Chitika Insights shows that the bulk of smartphone and tablet owners stick with the browser that's preloaded on their device, rather than download and use one made by a third-party developer.

Chitika measured mobile Web traffic in the U.S. and Canada for a week in late August and early September. It recorded hundreds of millions of online impressions from its ad network, which it says gives a representative sample of exactly what's going on in the mobile browser space.

According to Chitika's data, 91.26% of Android users stick to the stock Android/manufacturer browser on their device. Of the remainder, 5.83% use Opera Mobile, 2.34% use Google Chrome, and less than 1% use Mozilla's mobile Firefox browser.

[ Google Play Store is catching up with Apple's iTunes App Store. Read more at Google Play Store Downloads Surpass 25 Billion. ]

Looking at iOS devices, 85% use the on-board Safari browser, while 3% have switched to Google Chrome and 11% are using other alternatives such as Dolphin, Atomic, Mercury, and so on.

Chrome's lack of widespread adoption on mobile devices can be tied to availability. The browser works only on Android 4.0 (and up) smartphones and tablets. The Google Nexus 7 is the first Android device ever to ship with Chrome as the default browser. To date, Android 4.0's market penetration is tiny compared to Android 2.3 Gingerbread and other earlier iterations of Android--none of which can run Chrome.

Google released Chrome for iOS just three months ago, in late June. Chrome works across iOS devices, but it hasn't seen much penetration.

Chitika says the slow uptake of Chrome isn't because the browser performs poorly. "Despite the mixed numbers, Google’s venture into the mobile browser realm has likely been as effective as [it] hoped. While [Chrome's] share of iOS and Android Web traffic is meager, [its] modest performance shouldn't be taken as a statement about poor usability. These figures are more a testament to mobile users' complacency. The vast majority are fine with the performance of the default browsers on their phones and tablets, and don't see the need to commit to an alternative."

With iOS 6, Apple brought to Safari many of the features, such as tab syncing, that make Chrome appealing. Safari on iOS devices now offers a comparable feature set to Chrome, which likely makes the switch unnecessary for most users.

Chrome's use on mobile devices will only grow, however, because it will be the stock browser on future Android 4.1 Jelly Bean devices.

Download the debut issue of InformationWeek's Must Reads, a compendium of our best recent coverage on enterprise mobility in our new easy-to-read and -navigate Web format. Included in this issue of Must Reads: 6 keys to a flexible mobile device management strategy; why you need an enterprise app store; and Google points to the future of mobile. (Free registration required.)

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