Web Browsers are basically applications used to move around the world wide web. Without a web browser, you’re stuck; even with a browser, you can only do as much as it’s equipped to handle. There are many browsers out there not know to the general public. They aren’t very well known because they can perform specific functions that the average computer user would never find necessary.
The first web browser was called World Wide Web, and later the name was changed to Nexus. Created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, it was released in 1990, and now gave people a basic way to view web pages. However, it was a long way from the immersive online experience we have today.
The first popular graphical browser, Mosaic, was released in 1992. It was easy to install and easy to use, as well as reliable and capable of displaying images in line with text, rather than in a separate window. Mosaic replaced the text prompt-based system used before and gave us the browser bar, back and forward buttons, and graphics interactivity. Since then, though, technology has built on Mosaic’s foundation to create some truly awe-inspiring capability in our modern browsers.
While the merit of a particular browser depends on the needs of the user, there are indisputable facts about each web browsing application that establish their value. Based on factors such as capability, ease of use, speed, and more, here are the current web browsers used around the world:
There was a time when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer ruled the world. This doesn’t mean everyone liked it, but Microsoft’s firm commitment to the web browser meant it made its way onto most computers. Microsoft was at the forefront of the internet revolution with the launch of Internet Explorer in 1995, allowing users to surf the rudimentary world wide web. Between 2002 and 2003, around 95 percent of web users used it as their primary means to access web pages as more of the world gained internet access.
In recent years Internet Explorer has struggled to compete with faster rivals Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome browsers, launched in 2004 and 2008 respectively, as internet users increasingly began using operating systems which did not support Internet Explorer. Along with the increase in browser rivals, the introduction of internet browsing on Android and iOS smartphones lead to even more rivalries. Microsoft was slow to adapt to the smartphone audience and began to lose the once loyal customers it had obtained at the beginning of the internet revolution.
In 2009, Opera exploded in Eastern Europe. In terms of aesthetics, Opera would be first on this list, but where it truly shines is on mobile devices. Opera keeps personal information secure so navigating sites is easier and safer than ever. The browser also has a function that reroutes your web traffic to the Opera servers after compressing it and reducing the transfer of data to increase browsing speeds and maneuver around firewalls. This feature makes Opera the best web browser for users on a computer with less RAM or CPU computing power. Add ad blocking and a power saving mode to the mix and you’ve got a strong contender for the best browser on the web.
In 2010, Firefox steals Opera’s thunder. Firefox offers users a wide variety of extensions with built-in support for Hello, its own video chat service, and Pocket, its own bookmarking and read-it-later service. Speed is another plus for Firefox users, as well as regular updates every six weeks. It is a powerful browser but over the years updates struggle to keep up with changes. However, Firefox is still a solid choice for modern internet users.
Mobile users in India favor a Chinese app for browsing, with almost 1 in 3 in mobile users in India using China’s UC Browser, developed by Chinese firm UCWeb. The company’s first product started as a BlackBerry Messenger type of service called UCMail. Unfortunately, it didn’t take off. The team was quick to realize that people weren’t using UCMail. Rather, they wanted an application that could help them browse the web. So, in 2004, UCMail rebranded to UCWeb, which stands for “U Can Web”, to be a full-fledged mobile browser.
The browser features a modern, easy to use interface and features such as caching video for offline viewing. This itself is an excellent feature in India, as not all mobile users have access to fast downloads, either because of their network, data plan, or the device itself. Furthermore, the UC Browser has won the best browser of the year award for 2011 and 2012. In fact, the growth in India is so strong that UC Web has recorded a 60 times growth within India alone in the last three years. UCWeb is now designating its office in India as its second headquarters outside of China.
Safari is best known as the browser for Apple products ranging from the iPod and iPhone to Mac Pros. The biggest selling point for Safari is that it’s lightning fast. It uses much less battery life than Google Chrome or Firefox, which apple product users value. Like Firefox, it has a built-in read-it-later capability. While it’s widely thought that Safari is only available on Apple products, it can be used on Windows, as well.
In 2008, Chrome sneaked into the scene. Chrome is currently the most popular web browser in the world. While that can be due in part to the global omnipresence of Google, it is also due to the fact that Chrome is a powerhouse of a web browser. This is why it is often declared the best web browser on the market. Extensions are easily added and used to expand the capability of the browser, it works across a wide range of platforms, and is an incredibly stable and reliable application. It’s easily modified, with easy to navigate parental controls and endlessly customizable options to personalize Chrome for your use.
Google is often referred to as “the search company”. However, the search is not the only area that Google excels in. Today, Chrome controls almost the entire world, it has taken a dominating role in many countries. In the European browser market, Chrome and Firefox have established strong market positions with about 53.82 percent and 17.55 percent, respectively. The Canadian browser market, however, presents a slight variation, as Internet Explorer remained the second strongest force behind Chrome as of December 2014. On a worldwide scale, Chrome’s lead is particularly impressive with a market share of over 54.57 percent with Safari, a distant second at 14.59 percent.
To determine what browsers are used in different countries I used data from the StatCounter website. The website provides us with the percentages of the top six most used browsers and a simple visual representation of the percents and a chart. I chose seven countries/continents to collect data on North America, South America, Europe, China, Russia, Africa, and Australia.
The figures combine internet usage on both desktop and mobile devices, the latter of which has helped both Google and Apple exponentially thanks to the growing prevalence of mobile device internet use. Firefox consistently held a minor, yet steady, position. This decline is likely due to its lack of mobile presence.
Internet Explorer had long held onto its dominance by being the default web browser on desktops. But mobile devices do not rely on Internet Explorer as a web portal, instead of defaulting or embedding Chrome or Safari, predominantly. Chrome is the default web browser on all Android devices. Safari is on all Apple Macs and iOS devices. As more and more internet users are on mobile devices, Internet Explorer fades into obsolescence.
As with everything else, nothing lasts forever, and the day will come when Chrome no longer rules the desktop browser world. Chromes ability to personalize, high speed, and familiarity with the general public’s wants in a browser allows it to stay ahead in the browser market. Compared to Firefox and Internet Explorer, there is simply no threatening competition present currently. With the influence of mobile-based internet usage, there is a market opening up within browsers that many older ones find themselves unable to fight against. I find myself wondering if chrome will be able to keep up with the mobile market or if it will aim its branding towards web browsers until the end
Web Browsers – Citations
Web Browsers – “Browser Market Share Worldwide.” StatCounter, gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share#monthly-201710-201710-bar.
Web Browsers – Williams, Shaira. “10 Reasons Why Chrome Is Better Than All Other Browsers.” Tech Arrival, 12 Oct. 2017, www.techrrival.com/reasons-chrome-better-browser/.
Web Browsers- Workman, Dean. “Top 9 Most Used Browsers in Africa.” IT News Africa, 7 Apr. 2017, www.itnewsafrica.com/2017/04/top-9-most-used-browsers-in-africa/.
Web Browsers – “Browser Market Share Europe.” StatCounter Global Stats, Oct. 2017, gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/all/europe.
Web Browsers – “Browser Market Share China.” StatCounter Global Stats, Oct. 2017, gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/all/china.
Web Browsers – “Browser Market Share Russia.” StatCounter Global Stats, Oct. 2017, gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/all/russian-federation.
Web Browsers- “Browser Market Share North America.” StatCounter Global Stats, Oct. 2017, gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/all/north-america.
Web Browsers- “Browser Market Share South America.” StatCounter Global Stats, Oct. 2017, gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/all/south-america.
Web Browsers – “Browser Market Share Australia.” StatCounter Global Stats, Oct. 2017, gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/all/australia.
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