Chrome Browser Promotion Effectiveness

Chrome is definitely a popular browser for Windows (it is debatable how popular it actally is, because the web usage tracking reports tend to not agree with each other). However, it is not very clear why it is popular.

I have tried to explain part of the reason by showing a positive correlation between Windows XP usage and Chrome adoption. This correlation suggests that users with older and less powerful machines will tend to use Chrome, either because they use Windows XP which does not run IE9 and above, or because Chrome runs better on these machines. On newer and more powerful machines, you can use the latest versions of IE (on Windows 7 or 8), and the performance will be good enough for general use.

This correlation however was not enough in magnitude to explain the popularity of Chrome.

Here I would like to note some tactics that Google is using, which have probably been very effective (Windows users at least will be quite familiar with them).

Google Home Page


The top page for Google Search displays a banner that invites you to install Google Chrome. Since Google Search has dominant market share, this is obviously a very powerful way to promote Chrome. The problem is, most modern browsers have a search field somewhere in the UI controls which takes you directly to the search results. Hence most people will only rarely visit Google’s top page.

Adobe PDF Reader Download Page

If my memory serves my right, Microsoft was banned from bundling a PDF-viewer into Windows due to antitrust issues. As a result, users are generally required to separately install the Adobe PDF Reader to view PDF documents on the web.

When you go the Adobe’s web site to install the Adobe PDF Reader, this it the page you get.

Adobe does not simply show you a banner to install Google Chrome. It bundles Google Chrome (and the Google Toolbar) so that they are automatically installed together with the PDF Reader, unless you explicitly opt-out. This is tens or maybe hundreds of times more effective than a banner.


And in case if you’re wondering whether Adobe makes Chrome your default browser or not, well why not? It is the default browser unless you access a hidden screen and opt-out.


So to summarize, when normal users install Adobe PDF Reader onto their PCs, their default browser will now be Google Chrome, without their knowing it.

This is generally known as bundling, but in this case, it’s closer to a trojan horse.

Google has used this tactic with other browser plug-ins before, in particular to get users to install Google Toolbar. It is nothing new.

How much does this cost Google?

I have no information on how much Google might be paying Adobe to bundle Chrome with their PDF Viewer. We do know however how much Google is paying Mozilla to use Google as the default search engine. Google paid $300 million per year. The vast majority of Mozilla’s revenue is actually from this deal.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Google was paying Adobe in the tens of millions or even in the hundreds. It is not impossible that payments to Adobe exceed those to Mozilla. Keep in mind that Adobe’s PDF viewer has much higher market share than Firefox ever did.

Only Google

Google is the only browser manufacturer that is using these kinds of promotions. If fact, it is likely that Google is the only third-party browser vendor which has deep enough pockets to do this kind of thing. Mozilla is a non-profit organization, which relies on Google for most of its revenue. Opera is developed by a company that generated total revenue of 300 million USD in 2014. While this is a respectable amount of revenue, it is similar to the money that Google gives Mozilla. There is no way either Mozilla or Opera could fund promotion campaigns that would require bidding against Google. As expected, Google has a monopoly on these promotions. I have never seen similar ones from either Mozilla or Opera.

How effective are these promotions?

Without any data to go by, we can only speculate on the effectiveness of these promotions. However evidence suggests that at least the Adobe bundling promotion would be quite effective.

We know that Adobe PDF viewer is the defacto standard for viewing PDFs on Windows, and few people would not install it. We can also safely assume that most people would just use the default settings (install Chrome and make it your default browser) when downloading PDF viewer.

This is huge by any measure.

What can Microsoft do about this?

To prevent plug-in vendors from being a launchpad for bundled Chrome installs, Microsoft could rely on integrating plugins into IE itself. There may be problems related to antitrust however. It is interesting to note that Windows 8 does have a Metro-style Reader app that can display PDF files. There might be parts of the antitrust ruling which Microsoft could work around. However in general, I guess that it would be difficult for Microsoft to do enough integration to stop the leaks.

They could also make it more difficult for Chrome to be set up as the default browser behind your back. Adobe’s web site hides this setting so users won’t know that they are actually letting this happen. This however might also have antitrust issues.

I tend to think that it will be very difficult for Microsoft to stop this. Improving the performance of IE alone will not help. They have to include their own PDF plugin.

What does this mean?

As Chrome’s popularity has risen, many people have assumed that it was due to Chrome’s performance advantages. Although this may have been a factor, knowing that most users do not actively change default settings, I was doubtful if this could have been the most significant reason.

In my previous post, I had postulated that maybe Windows XP (which only runs up to IE8) was the reason. However the statistics, although inconclusive, suggested that it was not the major factor.

In this post, I looked at the promotions that Google was doing. Although the amount that Google is actually spending has not been disclosed, it is likely that they are spending very large amounts of money which none of their competitors could afford. Given the breadth and stealthiness of these promotions, I think it is safe to assume that these have contributed significantly. These promotions might even have been more important than any real performance improvements.

If this is the case, then no amount of performance improvements on the IE side will help IE’s market share. Chrome will continue to gain regardless.

The one bright side is that Microsoft might be able to include a simple PDF viewer plugin. A further understanding of the antitrust issues is required to see if this will be possible or not.


After a bit of research on the web, it seems that Adobe was threatening Microsoft with an antitrust lawsuit over the inclusion of PDF-export features in MS-Office. I could not find any articles that suggested that this expanded to a Microsoft-developed PDF-viewer plugin in IE (it could be a confidential agreement between the two parties), but it is not unreasonable to guess that it was.

Internet Explorer 8, 9 usage decline is quite slow

With the support for Windows XP ending in three weeks, we as web developers would hope that usage of Internet Explorer (the newest version of IE to run on Windows XP) to rapidly approach zero.

Support for Windows XP is ending

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Looking at statistics from StatCounter, it appears that IE8 usage is still 7-8% in the USA and Japan. Encouragingly, the pace of usage decline seems to be accelerating and we might reach almost zero within the year 2015.

StatCounter browser version partially combined US monthly 201302 201402

StatCounter browser version partially combined JP monthly 201302 201402

What is more troublesome is IE9 data. IE9 usage is declining and is already quite low at 5-7%. However the pace of usage decline is quite slow and it looks like it will be with us at least as long as IE8. This is probably due to corporations blocking automatic updating of Internet Explorer.

Analyzing StatCounter data at per-day resolution, we can see that before IE10 debuted, IE9 was used a lot during weekends. However, after IE10 was introduced and most of the consumer users shifted to IE10, corporate users remained on IE9. As a result, IE9 usage became more pronounced during week days.

StatCounter browser version partially combined US daily 20120201 20140231

StatCounter browser version partially combined JP daily 20120201 20140231

In summary, despite Windows XP not being supported after April this year, it looks like IE8 will still be with us, at least till the end of this year. IE9 also looks quite stubborn and since it’s on Windows Vista and 7, it’s unlikely that we will see it go away. We web developers will still have to support these legacy browsers for another year.





米国のデータです。それほど大きなスパイクではありませんが、Chromeは週末に多く使われているのがわかります。それに対してFirefoxはスパイクが全く見られず、職場でもプライベートでも使われていることがわかります。参考までにInternet Explorerは週末に下にスパイクしており、週末には比較的使われていないことがわかります。

StatCounter browser US daily 20130620 20131120


StatCounter browser JP daily 20130620 20131120


StatCounter browser DE daily 20130620 20131120

ブラジルのデータです。ここはInternet Explorerが週末に利用が増えていて、Firefoxは平日に利用が増えています。またChromeは余りはっきりしません。

StatCounter browser BR daily 20130620 20131120




StatCounter browser BR daily 20091120 20111120


StatCounter browser BR daily 20111120 20131120


StatCounter browser US daily 20091120 20111120


StatCounter browser DE daily 20111120 20131120



  1. 新しい製品が浸透するのは、職場よりも圧倒的にプライベートでの利用が早いです。ブラジルにおいてはChromeが職場に浸透してきましたが、他の国(米国、ドイツ)でChromeが浸透していくかは未知数です。
  2. 職場ではInternet Explorerが強みを発揮していますが、standards compliantなブラウザが必要なときは歴史的にFirefoxが使われてきたと思われます。いったん確立されたこのFirefoxの立場は、容易にはChromeに変わらないのでしょう。


StatCounter browser version partially combined JP quarterly 201001 201304



IE8のユーザが依然として多いのはWindows XPではIE8までしか動かないのが主因ですが、自分のウェブサイトの分析を見ると、OSがWindows 7でもIE8を未だに使っている人が多いようです。

これも自分のウェブサイトの分析結果ですが、Windows XPでIE8を使っている人は大学関係者にも多いようです。これはおそらくXPしか動かないNetbookなどを使っているためでしょう。一方でWindows 7でIE8を使っている人は圧倒的に企業です。

ウェブ開発者としてはなるべく多くの人に > IE10に切り替わって欲しいです。IE10は本当に良いブラウザです。


お金持ちの国はExplorerを使い、貧乏な国はChrome, Firefoxを使う

ちょっと極端な題名ですが、50の国を比較してみた結果、一人あたりGDPが高い国はInternet Explorerを使う傾向にあり、一人あたりGDPが低い国はChromeもしくはFirefoxを使う傾向にあることがわかりました。



  1. 一人あたりGDPが低い国は古いパソコンを使い続ける傾向が強く、未だにWindows XPの使用率が高いでしょう。
  2. Windows XPではInternet Explorer 8までしか使えません。Internet Explorer 8は性能が悪いので、ChromeやFireFoxを使っている人が多いでしょう。グラフは別のポストに掲載していますのでここでは掲載しませんが、Windows XPの使用率とChromeやFireFoxを使っている人の割合は相関します。
  3. 逆に一人あたりGDPが高い国は新しいパソコンに買い換えている傾向が強く、Windows 7の使用率が高いでしょう。
  4. WindowsではInternet Explorer 9もしくは10が使えます。特にInternet Explorer 10はChromeよりも高速だという結果も出ており、高性能です。敢えて標準ブラウザを使わずに、FireFoxやChromeに移るインセンティブが低いため、Internet Explorerを使っている人が多いでしょう。


スクリーンショット 2013 07 30 10 28 35


そして表題の通り「お金持ちの国はExplorerを使い、貧乏な国はChrome, Firefoxを使う」という傾向が鮮明に出ていることがわかります。


緑で記したデータ点は中国と韓国です。韓国は政治的な理由で異常にIE使用率が高いので除外しています。中国はUser Agent Stringを書き換えているブラウザが多く使われている可能性が高く、StatCounterのデータの信頼性が低いと考えています。



先進国ではWindows XPの使用率はかなり減ってきていて、Windows 7がメジャーになっています。Chromeは一時高性能でならしましたが、徐々にIE 10やIE 11に追いつき、測定結果によっては追い越されてきています。この傾向が続けば一般の人のChrome, FireFox離れが起こる可能性があります。