NetMarketShare Bows Out
Written by Janet Swift   
Wednesday, 04 November 2020

This news item was supposed to be about the latest desktop browser statistics and the fact that during October Edge had experienced an increase in its share. However, more newsworthy is the fact the October is the final month for which NetApplications.com will collect these statistics.

Reporting the way in which Chrome has come to be the dominant the desktop browser, documenting Firefox's decline and, until recently, the failure of Edge to gain a foothold, has been a part of I Programmer's routine fare. So it came as a shock to discover that this months figures are the last, at least for the foreseeable future. 

This is what greeted me when I followed my trusty link to the latest browser stats: 

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
After 14 years of service and being used as a primary source in tens of thousands of articles and publications, we are retiring NetMarketShare in its current form. October, 2020 is the last month of data. 

An upcoming change in browsers (https://github.com/WICG/ua-client-hints) will break our device detection technology and will cause inaccuracies for a long period of time. In addition, we have focused on bot detection and removal as a key part of the quality control process. It is the most complex part of our codebase. As time has gone on, it has become increasingly difficult to manage this process. So, instead of accepting increasing levels of inaccuracy, we thought it would be a good time to call it a day.

Despite it having had a brief airing on Hacker News ten months ago, I have to admit I'd not come across the Web Incubator Community Group's proposal for making drastic changes to the way that the User-Agent header works, but it seems that it's a done deal and, from its FAQ's, attempts to find alternatives have floundered. 

The project's READ.ME,entitled "Explainer: Reducing User-Agent Granularity" does acknowledge that those interested in tracking browser usage will need to take extra steps in this section:

Marketshare Analytics

A browser's market share can be extremely important. Having visibility into a browser's usage can encourage developers to test in that particular browser, ensuring fewer compatibility issues for its users. On top of that, a browser's market share can have a direct impact on the browser vendors' business goals, ensuring future development of the browser.

For marketshare analytics to work, the server needs to be aware of the server and its meaningful version, in order to be able to register them and find their relative market shares.

Sites that wish to provide market share analytics using UA-CH will need to inspect the Sec-CH-UA header, that is sent by default on every request, and keep a record of it.

This would undoubtedly increase the workload in producing the type of monthly figures that NetMarket Share has produced and we can only thank NetApplications for having provided them to us for free up until now.

After this disturbing news, I almost forgot to report on Edge's good news, which is that at the end of October it has a 10.22% of the desktop browser market. This means it has doubled its share in the past year, a period in which it has undergone internal change - it is now based on the Chromium engine - reflected in a new logo. Edge overtook Firefox in March to Becomes Second Most Popular Desktop Browser, but at that point its share was only 7.59%. This had improved by only half a percent to 8.09% by the end of July, see , so to have put on more than 2 percent since then does indicate a positive trend. 

browseroct

browschtroct

Most of Edge's extra share has come from Chrome, which has declined from 71.11% at the end of July to 69.25% at the end of October - still taking the lion's share despite being a memory hogger.

However, whereas previously I would have been making a mental note to catch up again in a few months time, without NetMarketShare this could be my last word on the subject for quite a while.

 


edgelogo

 

More Information

Browser Market Share from NetMarket Share

 

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 November 2020 )