Often web developers will say something like
Opera is a great browser, but we don’t care about it, as it has less than 1% market share. The stat that is often pointed to is the one from Net Applications. Net Applications of course are primarily US and English language focused (indeed their web site seems to only be available in English), and in the past they have retroactively reduced Opera’s market share in their statistics. Market share stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, as there are many variables to take into account, from sample size, geographical bias, detection techniques, spoofing, et criteria.
There is now a new player in town in the market share stats game, StatCounter, the popular visitor stats tool. In this post I will look at how StatsCounter and other free market share sites rank Opera in the CIS, which is one of Opera’s strongest markets, and a big chunk of what was the Soviet Union. I’ve started with this region, as it is a strong market for Opera, but in further posts I’ll look into further markets. I will however state up front that StatCounter ranks Opera as third browser overall globally ahead of both Safari and Chrome on almost 3% market share. I believe that Stat Counter is still more anglophone centric, so that figure could be a little low, but Stat Counter are working hard on localisation, with the Hungarian version already released, so I expect the bias in favour of US market share to even out over time.
There are three sites I’m using for this comparison, the aforementioned StatCounter, Gemius, which has free stats for a few Eastern European countries, and LiveInternet.ru which is a popular Russian language based stats site. Not all of these sites cover all markets unfortunately, but using multiple sources gives a fairer picture. I’ve not included Net Applications, as the free stats don’t include country by country breakdown. It is the same case for XiTi, which was last updated in November, but ranks Opera fairly strongly as 5.1% for the countries in Europe it monitors.
The biggest market in the CIS is of course Russia. It has one of the fastest growing internet population in the world. It had a Internet population of around 30 million in 2007, according to the CIA World Factbook. So how is Opera doing in Russia? According to StatCounter, Opera has almost 38% market share in Russia, in February, making it the number 1 browser ahead of Internet Explorer. LiveInternet on the other hand ranks Opera desktop as 21.5% market share, second behind IE. Gemius doesn’t track Russia. Overall Opera has a strong showing in Russia, placed first and second respectively. You’ll also notice the strong showing of Opera Mini in the LiveInternet stats.
Ukraine is perhaps the second biggest market in the CIS, with a Internet population of 10 million in 2007. Opera is doing even better in Ukraine than in Russia. By StatCounter stats, Opera has almost 44% market share in Ukraine, in February, again making it the most used browser ahead of IE. According to LiveInternet, Opera has almost 30% market share in February, second placed overall behind IE, but Opera 9 is the most used browser version, ahead of IE7. Ukraine is the only country in the CIS that Gemius covers. On this site Opera has 29% market share in February, second behind IE, but again Opera 9 is the most used browser version in Ukraine. Again, overall, Opera is very strong in Ukraine.
Belarus is the other major CIS state in Europe, with a Internet population of 6 million in 2007. Again, Belarus is a very strong market for Opera. According to StatCounter, Opera has just over 50% market share in Belarus in February, making it again the top browser in the country. With LiveInternet stats Opera has 36.4% market share in Belarus in February, again putting Opera in second place, and again Opera 9 is the most used browser version in the country. Opera is certainly very popular in Belarus.
Moldova is the last of the CIS nations in Europe, with a Internet population of 700,000 in 2007. StatCounter is the only site that tracks Moldova, and unfortunately Opera doesn’t come out on top, with only 23% market share in February. Opera was beaten off the top spot for the first time, slipping to third behind IE and Firefox.
Kazakhstan is perhaps the biggest market in Asian CIS with 1,901,000 internet users in 2006 (if you count Russia as being European). By StatCounter statistics, Opera has just over 39% in Kazakhstan in February, making it the most used browser for the 4th time, ahead of IE yet again. LiveInternet follows the pattern again, making Opera the second most used desktop browser in Kazakhstan with 23.2% market share in February, but this time Opera 9 is third behind both IE 7 and IE 6.
By CIA numbers Uzbekistan has a larger Internet population than Kazakhstan with 2,100,000 connected to the Internet, but the figure is from 2008 instead of 2006. Opera again does well in Uzbekistan by StatCounter numbers with just over 43% market share in February, beating out IE to first place for the 5th time in this post.
Azerbaijan sneaks in over the million mark with 1,036,000 Internet users according to the CIA in 2007. According to StatCounter, Opera fails for the second time to reach pole position, behind IE in second place with 29.14% market share in Feburary.
Kyrgyzstan has 750,000 Internet users in 2007 according to the CIA. Opera again finishes in second place by StatCounter stats, with 24.5% market share in February, again behind IE.
Georgia is perhaps most famous recently for being the centre of news coverage over the last year or so. Georgia had 360,000 Internet users in 2007. Opera again finishes in second place behind IE with 39.37% market share in February. Georgia had large growth in Opera users last year, so I expect that the 360,000 Internet population is well out of date now - I suspect it is much higher.
ArmeniaArmenia is a relatively small country with 172,800 Internet users in 2006. Like Georgia, this figure is likely well out of date now. Like Moldova, Opera slips to 3rd for the second time, again behind IE in first and Firefox in second in statCounter statistics. By StatCounter figures Opera had 27.36% market share in February, closing in on Firefox for second position.
Turkmenistan has a small Internet population of 70,000 in 2007, making it the second smallest of the former Soviet republics. Opera finishes second in StatCounter stats, behind IE with 28.43% market share in Feburary.
It is clear to see, using multiple sources where possible, that Opera is very successful in the CIS region. It regularly ranks first or second in terms of desktop browser market share in StatCounter stats and first or second in terms of browser version in LiveInternet stats. LiveInternet stats are probably more accurate at present as they focus on the Russian Language market, and StatCounter probably has a smaller sample size for each of the countries in this study. As StatCounter localises, I’d expect the sample sizes to go up, which may lower the Opera market share slightly, but it will make the CIS and other none US samples to be more representative and thus push up Opera’s global market share. Another reason why StatCounter’s stats are higher than LiveInternet may be that StatCounter could include Opera Mini in the Opera stats. If this is the case then the two sets of figures would be closer together.