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The changing face of Internet usage

I have recently been involved in testing an Email Marketing solution for our Customer that led to some investigation around expectations for testing coverage of email clients by OS and platform. Thankfully the client already had some usage statistics that we were able to use, but it did raise an interesting question so a little research ensued. Global Stats StatCounter ( collects and presents statistics from 16 billion visits to 3 million member sites per month.Looking at the data from the last 4 years there are some interesting statistics:

  • Facebook is the only consistently and substantially growing Social Media site with all others showing month on month reduction (though interestingly nothing is mentioned on Snapchat – a favourite of my youngest and no doubt also of the network and storage vendors on the planet)

  • Google is the search engine of choice with 90%+ Market Share consistently (even after Microsoft’s constant attempt for its users to adopt Bing and every free download surreptitiously converting you to Yahoo!).

  • Android is taking the lead as an Operating System (OS) being the only single OS in constant growth throughout this period gaining from <3% to now >30% of the market share.

  • In the Browser space whilst some are showing moderate growth Chrome has climbed from 30% to almost 50% share.

  • As one would imagine the Mobile device is leading the charge stealing 35% market share from the Desktop arena, but what is surprising is that Tablet usage really hasn’t changed that much – introduced into the current stats around q3 2012 the Tablet showed an initial growth to around 2% Market share – growing to about 4% in 2014 but now dropping back to about 3%.

More interesting for me though is a view of OS usage mapped across the world over the last 90 days. Every time I walk down a high street or go into a pub or restaurant – there is one very prominent handheld device and it has a nice shiny picture of the Newtonian Gravity Indicator or William Tells fabled target on the back leading me to think the Apple have sown up the world, but that’s just not true.iOS is the leader in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark, but for me the big surprise was that the US – home territory for Apple - is predominantly led by Windows with a smattering of states having Android leadership and the Rest of the World again split by Windows for Russia and most of Europe and Android for Africa, India, China and the Middle east.There are probably sound reasons behind the predominance of one particular OS over another in any specific region, but, for sure the OS that’s on the up and up is Android - no doubt due to its wide availability in entry level phones like my Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation I just purchased for £105 - a fantastic phone with all the bells and whistles one would attribute to much higher end devices. Perhaps this is a shot across the bows of those who charge for their OS.So how does this all relate to me – a Performance tester by trade? Well, for the whole time I’ve been testing, one yardstick has always been cited – that 80% of the work of an application stack is driven by about 20% of the processes using it. In other words, in the main, you can focus your attention on the real big hitters – so, should I now focus on testing Facebook in Chrome running on an Android Mobile? Of course not (unless Mr Zuckerberg offers me loads of money to do it), but reverting to another old adage “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” perhaps if I were to follow the trends here and use these statistics as a guide for where to focus my main attention for the apps that come into my testing sphere, I probably wouldn’t go far wrong.By far though, the biggest trend that these figures confirm is that mobile usage is showing a far higher prominence and is growing at a pace. 100% of that use is over wireless networks (Mobile or WiFi) where available bandwidth and quality of service can be negatively affected by many factors. Slow or low quality connections on wireless networks have been shown to have a negative impact on traditional LAN based users of the same application stack so this should focus our attention to include Mobile devices more and more within our Performance Testing Strategy.


I remember using StatCounter a few years ago when functionally testing/developing web applications and considering browser compatibility; using it to see the market share (and therefore the importance) of browser versions to include or be concerned about. I'm pleased to say that looking today, over the last 12 months, IE6 is now at an all time low usage of 0.1% in the UK. Thank heavens...

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