2015 is here and with it comes more data on the digital landscape of 2014. Crunching the data for this post was significantly easier than last time for two reasons: all of the initial setup work was taken care of from last quarter’s post and because I received my Google Analytics certification 2 weeks ago, which made navigating Analytics to pull the reports I needed much smoother. If you’re at all involved with measuring data, understanding how your products are being used and how you can improve their success, I highly recommend taking the Analytics courses and exam Google offers free of charge.

There are a handful of important items that made this quarter’s data especially interesting: the release of Android 5 (Lollipop), the rise of iOS 8 adoption, the release of the iPhone 6 and 6+, and, a factor whose impact I cannot wait to quantify at this time next year, the holiday season. This quarter’s data was also exciting because it allowed us to begin our trend data analysis, in which we’ll detail how things shift from quarter to quarter, year to year.

TL;DR

Chrome's still king, Safari overtook IE in the #2 browser spot, and Firefox is last again. IE 11 gained more users and IE 10 - 8 has seen a decrease in use. Over 50% of iPhone users are on iOS 8 and 73% of Android users are on 4.4. The iPhone 6 is outpacing the 6+ 3:1. Check out the Final Thoughts for some interesting conclusions. Phew.

Browser Overview Q4 2014

Browser Popularity

Overall, Q4 2014 saw mostly subtle shifts in increase and decrease. Chrome still remains king of the browsers with 35.43% of all traffic, an increase of 2.63%. Safari saw a similar gain of 2.11%, moving its total share of traffic to 24.70% from 22.59% and overtaking IE as the second-most popular browser in use. IE’s total traffic decreased by 2.87% to 23.46%, the largest percent change in this dataset. Firefox rounds out the bottom with 8.60%, a decrease of 0.05%.

Browser Use by OS

Windows and Mac browser share Q4 2014

Windows

Total traffic from Windows decreased by 2.26% to 52.34%. Chrome overtook IE as the most-used Windows browser, increasing 2.73% to 43.64% of total Windows Traffic. IE dropped 3.14% to 41.97% of total traffic and Firefox stayed almost the same, with a slight decrease of 0.26% to 13.73%

IE versions Q4 2014

Let's talk about IE

Even with overall traffic decreases, IE still saw positive gains in Q4 2014. IE 11 use increased 7.15% to 48.54% of IE traffic. IE 10, 9 and 8 all decreased, with IE 8 seeing the biggest drop of 4.72% moving to 17.06% of IE traffic. IE 10 dropped 0.75% to 13.86% and IE 9 dropped 1.50% to 18.96% of IE traffic.

Mac

Total traffic from Mac increased 1.66% to 12.28%. Browser use didn’t shift much on the Mac: Safari remains on top with 52.41%, an increase of 0.36%, Chrome second with 35.27%, a 0.54% decrease, and Firefox at 12.11%, a 0.03% decrease.

iOS and Android browser share Q4 2014 

iOS

iOS saw the most significant change in overall platform traffic, increasing 4.00% to 22.51% total traffic. Safari remains the most popular browser with 85.83% of traffic, but overall Safari traffic decreased by a whopping 12.36% from last quarter. Chrome saw an increase of 1.47%, accounting for 3.28% of all iOS traffic.

Android

Total traffic from Android devices increased slightly by 0.67% to 10.75%. Chrome increased its lead as the top browser for the platform, jumping 6.11% to 70.65%. Android browser decreased 10.94%, bringing it to just 24.52% of Android browsing.

OS Adoption

iOS version Q4 2014

iOS

A significant swing occurred in Q4 2014 for iOS. Despite the significant QA issues with iOS 8, adoption rates are healthy at 58.20%, increasing 54.60% from Q3 2014. iOS 7 use decreased by 52.80% to 39.00% of total iOS traffic. iOS 6 use decreased 0.80% to 2.30% and is well on its way to becoming an insignificant data point.

Android OS version Q4 2014

Android

Android also saw an increase in adoption of the most recent OS releases, with 4.4 increasing 10.83% to a fantastic 73.06% of all Android traffic. During this quarter on 11/3/14, Android 5.0 Lollipop was released and accounted for 1.18% of Android traffic. 4.0 also saw in increase, moving up 0.16% to 4.66%. Older versions of Android decreased, with 4.3 decreasing 2.11% to 3.92% total Android traffic, 4.2 decreasing 2.50% to 5.16% total Android traffic, 4.1 decreasing 6.69% to 10.97% total Android traffic and 2.3.6 decreasing 0.87% to 1.05% total Android traffic.

Screen Resolution

There weren’t significant changes to the screen resolution landscape, with most resolutions seeing a slight increase or decrease during Q4 2014. The top 3 screen resolutions remained the same, but 1920 x 1080 edged out 320 x 568 to take the second spot in Q4.

  • 1366 x 768 — 11.38%
  • 1920 x 1080 — 9.65%
  • 320 x 568 — 9.10%
  • 768 x 1024 — 6.92%
  • 360 x 640 — 6.21%
  • 1680 x 1050 — 6.18%
  • 1280 x 1024 — 6.07%
  • 1280 x 800 — 5.80%
  • 1024 x 768 — 5.24%
  • 1440 x 900 — 5.23%
  • 1600 x 900 — 4.69%
  • 2560 x 1440 — 4.56%
  • 320 x 480 — 3.65%
  • 1920 x 1200 — 2.53%

The new, larger iPhones were released in Q4 and are accounting for some traffic, but the iPhone 5/5s resolution still accounts for the majority of iPhone traffic. Of the new phones, the 6 (and not the 6+) is by far the most popular with 77% of new iPhone traffic. At this time, the new iPhones accounted for 1.90% of all screen resolutions, which isn’t that significant. Next quarter will give us a better idea of those figures as new phones are continuing to make their way into users’ hands, especially after the holidays.

Final Thoughts

Q4 didn’t see many significant changes, but the change that did occur is very positive. The adoption of the latest versions of operating systems and browsers increased, and that’s the ideal outcome for development teams. The number of IE users moving to the most recent version (11) was also a positive shift, and we’re looking forward to this trend continuing next quarter.

Safari overtaking IE for the number 2 spot in browser popularity was a bit surprising, especially since Mac use is low. The increase of iOS use (the largest platform gain in Q4) as well is significant, and this data further reinforces the thought that mobile traffic is beginning to and will completely eclipse desktop traffic.

The most interesting data this quarter for me was the mobile OS adoption data and the comparison of Android and iOS adoption rates. iOS 8 was released 09/17/14 and 14 days later at the end of Q3 had a 3.6% platform adoption rate. 3 full months later, the rate steadily climbed to 58.20%. Android 5 was released 11/3/14 and 59 days later at the end of Q4 had a 1.18% platform adoption rate, less than half of the iOS 8 adoption rate after 2 weeks.

The barriers to upgrading the OS of an Android phone can certainly account for the slow Android adoption, but I don’t think 1.18% is a terribly poor performance for Android. The number of users with an Android running 4.4 which was—until 5 was released—the most recent Android OS version, jumped significantly from Q3 to Q4 to 73.06%.

The number of Chrome on Android users increased 6.11% while Android Browser took a dive by 10.94%. Chrome became the default Android browser with the release of Android 4.0 in 2012. This is significant because, as I mentioned above, there are barriers to upgrading the Android phone OS without upgrading the hardware as well, and I believe we’re seeing this upward trend now in Chrome use on Android because of the typical 2 year upgrade cycle. It’s now been 2 years since Chrome was made the default browser and older phones are beginning to be cycled out for the newer devices with the new OS and Chrome.

Lastly, the data this quarter comes with a huge caveat: the holidays. The holiday season can dramatically affect businesses’ sites: e-commerce sites get more traffic before the holiday but users are less likely to browse the Internet over time off and their traffic decreases. At this point I don’t know if this data is the way it is because it was affected by the holiday aberrations or if this is part of a greater web trend and the holidays don’t have much impact. I want to spend the next year monitoring how the data shifts from quarter to quarter and then compare Q4 2014 with Q4 2015 to identify what patterns exist and if any resulting correlations can be made.

Notes

The State of the Internet Q3 2014

As an aside, Google’s share of search traffic has dropped as a result of Firefox dropping them as their default search engine.