Are Google Chrome's Stats Inflated?

IT Management

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Earlier this week, it was announced that Google Chrome had overtaken Internet Explorer as the number one browser in use, and the world rejoiced. However, thanks to the grey area surrounding prerendered web pages, these results may be somewhat dubious.

As pointed out by PC Mag, via the Windows Internet Explorer blog, the site responsible for the Google Chrome claim was StatCounter, however, when factoring the results, StatCounter included prerendered pages in their results, something Net Applications, another site that tracks these trends, does not.

With that in mind, Net Applications' results concerning browser share is a little different. Let's compare the two. First, StatCounter:

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

Now for Net Applications:

As you can see, Net Applications still has Microsoft's browser as the leader, by a wide margin. Furthermore, StatCounter has decided to stop counting prerendered pages, which is indicated by a mouseover message, which we've screencapped:

StatCounter Disclaimer
Click for full size image

For those of you who can't read small web print and didn't click the image enlarge link, the text says that due to requests, StatCounter will be adjusting their browser stats to no longer include prerendered pages in the Google Chrome browser. These changes will be reflected from counts beginning on May 1, 2012. Currently, these counts are not viewable as of this moment.

You can find out more about StatCounter's position in their FAQ.

With that in mind, prerendered pages doesn't exactly explain why StatCounter's count for IE is much less (32 percent) than Net Applications, which has IE with 54 percent of the browser share. According to the Microsoft blog post, this is due to "geoweighting browser usage baded on real world internet populations." This topic is the subject of much scrutiny in their post, but suffice to say, after the geoweighting is factored in--something StatCounter does not do--StatCounter's share for Internet Explorer increases to 44.6 percent, which is much closer to the Net Applications report.

How about adding a curveball to these proceedings? Another trusted web resource, W3 Schools, also keeps browser stats of their own, which are apparently based on visitors to the website. Observe the disparity between theirs and other services:

April 2012 browser statistics:

Internet Explorer - 18.3 percent
Firefox - 35.8 percent
Chrome - 38.3 percent
Safari - 4.5 percent
Opera - 2.3 percent

Based on W3Schools' numbers, Chrome and Firefox are absolutely smashing IE, which doesn't fit with either of the prior reports. Apparently, people who visit are experienced web users who have moved on from Microsoft's browser.

In other news, it's pretty weird seeing a skyscraper ad for Snorg Tees at