Mobile internet use has increased dramatically in the last few years, even overtaking desktop use in some countries. Figures released by Swedish research firm Pingdom earlier this year indicate that 58% of internet traffic in Zimbabwe originates from mobiles and even though statistics for European nations are much lower, with Britain coming in at 10.71%, there is still a definite increase across the globe.
But mobile internet use is not limited to one, single source, with smartphone users now having a number of browsers from which they can choose. While each the major mobile platform’s has its own native browser there are several third-party apps which further the online capabilities of smartphones and often better their pre-installed counterparts.
According to StatCounter.com, the iPhone’s native Safari app is the most-used mobile browser in Britain, with BlackBerry and Android’s proprietary offerings also performing well. However, the results of our poll suggest that another browser, the mobile version of Google’s Chrome, is far and away the most popular amongst Dialaphone blog readers.
Despite accounting for just 0.23% of UK mobile internet use (according to the StatCounter.com figures), Chrome was the runaway favourite in our poll, taking well over half of the votes cast.
Chrome is currently available for iOS and Android and performs impressively on both platforms, offering a range of features unequalled by native browsers, even when Apple’s Safari is taken into consideration.
Whilst there are other browsers that offer excellent features and performance, Chrome’s success shows that it has the full support of Google behind it and the way in which is seamlessly integrates across other devices shows the beginnings of a full ecosystem orchestrated by the search giant.
Although Chrome was the outright winner, other browser garnered respectable levels of support with Firefox coming in second. Mozilla’s mobile offering is a very capable app which draws on the experience its developers have gained through years of building its desktop counterpart, and Firefox presents an excellent platform for browsing.
However, like its desktop version, Firefox mobile has lost ground to Chrome of late, with Google’s enormous online presence helping the search-giant’s browser to take a significant share of the market. Interestingly, Mozilla has this year announced that it is developing an entire mobile platform of its own, to be called Firefox OS, which could be seen on budget handsets as early as next year. Just last week images were published on Mozilla’s blog which provided a glimpse of how the OS’ user interface will look, suggesting that development is near completion.
Third in the poll was Apple’s Safari browser, the default web-browsing app for all iOS devices. Safari also allows users to sync tabs between an iPhone and Mac, and in general, performs admirably across every facet of web use. As mentioned earlier, Safari is the most popular mobile browser in Britain and the app accounts for 35.57% of mobile internet use.
Next in the run-down of results was the native Android browser, which comes as standard with devices powered by Google’s mobile platform and is hugely popular amongst mobile users. With the browser being a native app that appears on the homescreen of Android handsets it seems that there is a significant number of mobile users who are quite content to use the browser which comes as standard, negating the need to go looking for an alternative.
Fifth was Opera, which has had a significant presence in mobile for some time and was one of the first real alternatives to the many and varied native browser. As well as being available for the current major mobile platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone the browser is also available for older operating systems such as Symbian and Maemo, with a version even having been produced for Nintendo’s Wii and DS devices.
Lastly was Skyfire, a lesser-known browser which performed well when we tested it earlier this year. Skyfire is currently available for iOS and Android, having previously also supported Symbian and Windows Mobile. Skyfire has been praised for developing a means of showing Flash video on the iPhone by converting a clip to an iOS-friendly format before sending it to the device. However, it seems that the browser has not captured the imagination of Dialaphone readers, judging by its performance in out poll.
As has become the norm, we ran the same poll concurrently on the Dialaphone Facebook page. In the past this survey has produced some results which have been wildly different to those that came from the blog but this was not the case with our latest poll, with Chrome once again being the runaway winner.
Firefox was again second, with the native Android browser performing slightly better than it did in our blog poll while Opera and Skyfire rounded off the voting.
Overall it seems that Chrome is very well thought of amongst smartphone users with its low presence in terms of market share likely due to there being many older devices still in regular use unable to run it. Google is likely to keep developing the app alongside its desktop counterpart and no doubt many new and innovative features will be introduced that could well give rise to an even more developed ecosystem for the tech giant.
We are sure that the popularity of Chrome will continue to grow, with Google possibly making it the default browser for Android devices in the future, in a similar way to how Safari is for iOS. For now, Chrome is a fantastic browser that offers a set of features unmatched by any other mobile app and its performance in our poll shows that many consumers are of the same way of thinking.