Most of the data around web browser market share puts Google Chrome or Safari at the top – with their percentage of the market varying by platform and region. But new research from analytics provider Mixpanel finds that many sources are overlooking a major contributor of mobile web browser events here in the U.S.: Facebook.
According the firm’s new study involving millions of users and billions of events across its platform, Facebook has grown to become a significant browser on U.S. mobile devices. In some states, it’s even accounting for a sizable number of mobile browser events – like Washington (13.74%), Rhode Island (13.14%), and Montana (12.64%), for example.
While Facebook’s use as a mobile browser was still far outweighed by Safari in most cases, due to the dominance of Apple’s iOS in the U.S., the social networking app has achieved mobile browser market share of around 10 percent in many states, Mixpanel found.
This includes: Texas (10.12%), Hawaii (10.94%), New Hampshire (10.52%), Indiana (11.93%), Missouri (11.49%), Pennsylvania (10.92%), South Carolina (10.16%), North Carolina (11.8%), Oregon (9.73%), North Dakota (9.9%), West Virginia (9.95%), Minnesota (11.81%), and Delaware (9.94%), in addition to Washington, Rhode Island, and Montana, as noted above.
This is notable because it means many people in those states are using Facebook as their main point of consuming online content – whether it’s news or entertainment, or anything else.
It’s also indicative of the threat that Google has been facing for some time as users shift their web searches to mobile devices. With more people using Facebook as their portal to the web, Google has had to rely more heavily on partnership deals – like its integration in Apple’s Safari browser where it pays to be the default search engine, creating much heftier traffic acquisition costs.
Facebook’s growth as a mobile browser is also of concern because it means it has an outsized influence on shaping the flow of news and information, without having a news media background or experience – or even, any longer, an editorial staff who curates the way news reaches Facebook users.
Instead, it has for years over-relied on its algorithms to customize the News Feed, which allowed fake news, hoaxes, and clickbait to spread. This is something the company has only recently come to terms with, and is trying to correct through punitive measures like downranking fake news, as well as by implementing fact-checking programs.
Those course corrections are long overdue, and are increasingly critical to get right, as this new data shows.
Thankfully, Facebook’s portion of the mobile browser market share is still small compared with Safari, which has the majority market share in almost all the U.S. states, where it claims anywhere from the mid-50’s to mid-60’s in terms of mobile browser market share percentages.
On average across all U.S. states, Safari claims 58.06 percent of mobile browser market share, Chrome has 32.48 percent, and Facebook has 8.82 percent. All other browsers account for the remaining 0.64 percent, Mixpanel reports.
Related to Safari’s dominance, the study also found iOS topped Android usage in the U.S. with 65.5 percent of American using iOS versus 34.46 percent on Android.
In some states, iOS’ usage was very high – around three-quarters or more of the population are using Apple’s OS – including: Alaska (77.88% iOS vs 22.12% Android), Connecticut (76.94% vs 23.06%), and Rhode Island (75.50% vs 24.5%). New York (72.57% vs 27.43%) and California (66.72% vs 33.28%) were high as well, on that front.
And every single state had over 50 percent of their users on iOS.
The highest penetration by Android was in Nevada (58.33% iOS vs 40.44% Android), West Virginia (56.95% iOS vs 43.05% Android) and Wyoming (55.5% iOS vs 44.5% Android). But only in one case did this also equated to higher Chrome usage: in Wyoming, 65.94% of the mobile browser market share was Chrome, versus 30.07% Safari.