How Safari became the number one browser at St Andrews
Last week I logged into Google Analytics to take a look at browser statistics for the University website. I was surprised to discover that Safari is now the most popular browser among visitors to the University website.
In January 2012, 29.5% of all visits to the University website were made using Safari. This compares to 26.5% for Internet Explorer. Chrome has 21.4% and Firefox has 20.1%.
It is an unusual finding. Take Wikimedia’s statistics, which show 29.5% of traffic coming from IE users, and only 6.1% coming from Safari users.
Here at St Andrews, Safari was also the most popular browser in December 2011. But it hasn’t always been this way. So I decided to take a look through the previous months to figure out the trends.
Browser trends since September 2010
I looked as far back as September 2010, the last month when Safari was still only the third most popular browser among our visitors. At that time, as you would probably expect, Internet Explorer had a healthy lead in front of the other browsers — 41.4%. Firefox had 24.4%, Safari had 22.1% and Chrome had 10.5%.
Since then, the big four browsers have converged, so that they each now account for 20-odd percent of visits.
There has been a strong decline in IE usage. Firefox usage has also decreased, although it now appears to be making a small resurgence. But, while Firefox was once the clear favourite among non-IE users, today it is only the fourth most popular browser.
Chrome has experienced massive growth. It has now overtaken Firefox and shows no sign of stopping.
Safari has experienced a steady increase over this period. Chrome is growing more quickly, but it began from a lower point.
Is Safari so popular anywhere else?
Last week I tweeted about the fact that Safari is the most popular browser among our visitors.
The most popular browser among our website visitors is now Safari with 29.3%. IE has 26.6%. Chrome 21.4%. Firefox 20.15%. ^dbss
— St Andrews Web Team (@stawebteam) February 2, 2012
There were some interesting responses.
@stawebteam Do you have a lot of Macs on campus? Our Safari usage is nowhere near that high!
— Michael Nolan (@MikeNolan) February 2, 2012
@stawebteam interesting. Nowhere near that on ours. Any theories/explanations?
— Webdunk (@Webdunk) February 2, 2012
So I took a look at the operating systems used by the University website’s visitors.
In January 2012, 33.1% of visitors were using a Mac. I would guess this would be much higher than most other websites. For instance, Wikimedia estimates that only 8.6% of its visitors are using a Mac.
Usage of Macs among our visitors has grown from 26.0% in September 2010. This clearly contributes a great deal towards the popularity of Safari, which is further bolstered by the growth of iOS devices.
Quite what explains why we have so many Mac users at St Andrews is another question! Perhaps you can come up with some theories.