More People Pick Their Religion Than Their Browser?

February 28, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Browsers | 1 Comment

I blogged yesterday about how IE is still maintaining a tight hold on the browser market (see IE is Still Beating Mozilla and Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead). Today I wanted to explore the question “why?” Not that I think IE is a bad browser or that Mozilla is categorically superior – I really don’t have a strong preference. But I find the selection process interesting. So did the New York Times in a recent technology blog post (The Browser Choices We Make) which wondered “why people choose the browsers they choose. Let us know about what’s behind your choice in the comments section.” So what did they find? Well, culling through the 170+ responses didn’t help explain why IE is popular. In fact, on the surface it did just the opposite. Almost all the responses are about why they chose Firefox, Safari, or Opera, yet IE owns ~80% of the market.

Of course, the reason is that the majority of IE users didn’t explicitly choose IE. They use it because their computer came with it (and they don’t know they have a choice or know how to change it) or their employer requires it. Some do make a conscious choice to use IE, mostly because of compatibility. I guesstimate that in the US only about a quarter of the IE users explicitly selected IE at best (19% of all users). So combined with the 23% represented in other options (if you assume all those were explicit choices which may not be the case for Safari either), a conservative estimate is that only 42% have explicitly thought about and selected their browser.

Since choices about browsers or Java and .NET are often figuratively referred to as “religious” decisions (for example, see this posting on “The Firefox Religion“) that brought to mind a recent study on religion. According to the recent Pew study, 44% of Americans have changed religions (if you include switching between different forms of Protestantism). This means that more people probably change their religion than change their browser. Strange. One would think it’s easier to install Firefox on your laptop than to convert your religion. Still, both numbers are pretty high when you consider how often we tend to stick with the status quo in other areas of our lives. To me, this propensity to change shows that Americans are not afraid of replacing whatever comes installed on their laptops or their souls.

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  1. […] York Times regarding why people choose not to update their technology and my blog posting on “More People Pick Their Religion Than Their Browser?“.  I’m not sure how much of it will wind up in print, so I’ll relate here […]


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