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#MobilePerf Blog Series: Mobile Browser Trends

In June 2012, Akamai launched the "Akamai IO" data visualization tool, with an initial data set that highlighted browser usage across PCs and other connected devices connecting to Akamai via fixed and mobile networks. The data used for Akamai IO is sampled from nearly three trillion requests for content that Akamai handles each day.  It also makes use of Akamai's EdgeScape IP address geolocation tool to help identify IP addresses belonging to mobile/cellular network providers, which allows us to break out connections from those providers separately within the visualization tool. While we feature data from Akamai IO in each quarter's State of the Internet Report, we thought it would be interesting to look at longer term trending for mobile browser usage as part of the MobilePerf blog series.

Within the Akamai IO tool, we generated a year-long data set for the top 10 mobile browsers seen on cellular networks.  A graph of the data set is shown below. (Please note that the June/July and December 2015 gaps are due to issues that occurred with the back end data processing system.)

MoPerf Image 1.png

When we reviewed the graph, a number of things stood out.  The first is that Apple's Mobile Safari, Chrome Mobile and Webkit on Android are far and away the top mobile browsers seen making requests from cellular networks for Akamai customer content.  While this isn't surprising in and of itself, what is interesting is just how little market share other mobile browsers have in aggregate - moreover, it appears that this share has continued to decline over time.

One trend that we have identified on a quarterly basis over the last year in the State of the Internet Report is clearly evident here as well, when we look back over the last year: the declining share of Apple's Mobile Safari browser.  In early June 2015, it accounted for approximately 43% of the requests sample for Akamai IO, but over the last year it has fallen by 10 percentage points, and is now at 33%.

Another clear decline can also be seen in the above graph for Android Webkit.  However, this decline is expected, since as of Android version 4.4 (KitKat), Chrome had replaced Webkit as the default Android browser engine.  As older devices are upgraded or retired, Webkit traffic is expected to decline further.  As expected, declining use of Webkit is balanced by increasing use of Chrome Mobile.  At just under 24% a year ago, it now accounts for just under 44% of requests.

These top three browser engines currently account for approximately 90% of the requests sampled for Akamai IO.  In addition to these top three, Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices continue to hang on.  Internet Explorer Mobile saw about 1% adoption through the latter half of 2015, growing to just over 2% in early December, and then gradually settling back down to approximately 1.5% over the last six months.  Blackberry mobile browser usage has declined over the last year as well, dropping from around three-quarters of a percent in June 2015 to approximately half a percent in June 2016.  Other popular third-party browsers, such as Opera Mini, have also seen declining usage.

You can use the data visualization tool at Akamai IO to generate your own customizable and exportable graphs of browser usage trends over time.  In addition, you can follow the quarterly State of the Internet Report series, which includes more insight into the mobile landscape including browser usage, mobile connection speeds and trends in mobile voice and data traffic growth.