Back in March, Microsoft announced that it would be using Net Applications as its main source for gauging the worldwide use of web browsers, including its own Internet Explorer. It was also critical of how another company, StatCounter, generates its results. We contacted StatCounter at the time and received a response, which said that Microsoft's arguments in favor of Net Applications was, in its words, "somewhat one-sided."
Since that time, StatCounter has claimed that its results show that Google's Chrome browser has now overtaken IE in the browser wars worldwide. This week, the StatCounter team posted up a massive blog post that went into great detail about how its statstics are, in its opinion, more accurate than those from Net Applications. The blog post is written as an open letter to Microsoft's Roger Capriotti, who wrote the original article about Microsoft's support of Net Applications.
In summary, StatCounter contents that its use of page views to measure web browser traffic is more accurate than Net Applications' method of measuring unique visitors. It states, "Our methodology takes account of how frequently browsers are used and also tracks multi-browser usage by individuals. It is just plain wrong to claim that 'browser usage' is measured using unique visitors."
StatCounter also says it takes its information from three million websites, while Net Applications only uses 40,000 sites. The blog post says, "Furthermore, Net Applications only offer paid web analytics services which may introduce a bias towards profit-making, ecommerce-type sites in their sample pool. Our free service with optional paid upgrades gives us better variety and coverage of all site types."
The blog also takes up the subject of Net Applications' "geoweighting” method of tracking web traffic and adding in the Internet users of specific nations around the world via CIA data. StatCounter says using that information leads to inaccurate results. One example is how geoweighting is uses to track web traffic from Chinese users. StatCounter states, "The CIA Internet User data does NOT distinguish between people who access the internet several times per day and those who only go online once every few months. This means that the data vastly overstates the influence of China ..."
StatCounter's final message to Capriotti states:
Remember Roger - we have absolutely no problem with you or with Microsoft or IE... our problem is with misleading and biased information being published under the guise of a fair and balanced analysis. We have no preference for one browser over another. We are independent and report what we see. At the end of the day Roger, whether you like it or not, we're telling you this: On a sample exceeding 15 billion page views per months to over 3 million global websites IE is not doing very well... Don't shoot the messenger though Roger! We just record the stats.
Geekwire got a response from Microsoft about StatCounter's blog post. It states:
We stand by our assessment that Net Applications provides a more accurate analysis of the browser landscape. To give just one example, we simply cannot rely on a data source that suggests there are only 23 million Chinese citizens online. (StatCounter global market share for China shows 1.17% of the world internet traffic when reliable data from The World Bank puts that number at 460 million. Other sources like CNNIC puts it at 513 million at the end of 2011, and Internet World Stats puts it at 420 million in 2010). It is also unfortunate that StatCounter decided to respond to our critique of their data by staging a personal attack on one of our employees. We believe in a healthy dialogue and personal attacks in a professional environment are unwarranted.
Source: StatCounter blog