Facebook is now a major mobile browser in U.S., with 10%+ market share in many states

Facebook is now a major mobile browser in U.S., with 10%+ market share in many states

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.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Google I/O is nowhere near done. While the mainstream keynote just ended, the company is about to unveil the next big things when it comes to APIs, SDKs, frameworks and more.

The developer keynote starts at 12:45 PM Pacific Time (3:45 PM on the East Cost, 8:45 PM in London, 9:45 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page.

If you’re an Android developer, this is where you’ll get the juicy details about the next version of Android. You can expect new possibilities and developer tools for you and your company. We’ll have a team on the ground to cover the best bits right here on TechCrunch.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Google’s on-by-default ‘Articles for You’ leverage browser dominance for 2,100 percent growth

Google’s on-by-default ‘Articles for You’ leverage browser dominance for 2,100 percent growth

When you’ve got leverage, don’t be afraid to use it. That’s been Google’s modus operandi in the news and publishing world over the last year or so as it has pushed its AMP platform, funding various news-related ventures that may put it ahead, and nourished its personalized Chrome tabs on mobile. The latter, as Nieman Labs notes, grew 2,100 percent in 2017.

You may have noticed, since Chrome is a popular mobile browser and this setting is on by default, but the “Articles for You” appear automatically in every new tab, showing you a bunch of articles the company thinks you’d like. And it’s gone from driving 15 million article views to a staggering 341 million over the last year.

In late 2016, when Google announced the product, I described it as “polluting” the otherwise useful new tab page. I also don’t like the idea of being served news when I’m not actively looking for it — I understand that when I visit Google News (and I do) that my browser history (among other things) is being scoured to determine which categories and stories I’ll see. I also understand that everything I do on the site, as on every Google site, is being entered into its great data engine in order to improve its profile of me.

Like I said, when I visit a Google site, I expect that. But a browser is supposed to be a tool, not a private platform, and the idea that every tab I open is another data point and another opportunity for Google to foist its algorithms on me is rankling.

It has unsavory forebears. Remember Internet Explorer 6, which came with MSN.com as the default homepage? That incredible positioning drove so much traffic that, for years after (and indeed today), it drove disgusting amounts of traffic to anything it featured. But that traffic was tainted: you knew that firehose was in great part clicks from senior citizens who thought MSN was the entire internet.

Of course the generated pages for individual users aren’t the concentrated fire of a link on a major portal, but they are subject to Google approval and, of course, the requisite ranking bonus for AMP content. Can’t forget that!

But wherever you see the news first, that’s your news provider. And you can’t get much earlier than “as soon as you open a new tab.” That’s pretty much the ultimate positioning advantage.

Just how this amazing growth occurred is unclear. If there’s been any word of mouth, I missed it. “Have you tried scrolling down? The news is just right there!” It seems unlikely. My guess would be that the feature has been steadily rolling out in new regions, opting in new users who occasionally scroll down and see these stories.

And unlike many other news distribution platforms, there isn’t much for publishers or sites like this one to learn about it. How are stories qualified for inclusion? Is there overlap with Google News stuff? What’s shown if people aren’t signed in? I’ve asked Google for further info.

Do you, like me, dislike the idea that every time you open a tab — not just when you use its services — Google uses it as an opportunity to monetize you, however indirectly? Fortunately, and I may say consistent with Google’s user-friendliness in this type of thing, you can turn it off quite easily — on iOS, anyway.

Open the menu at the top right of any tab and hit settings. There should be a “Suggested articles” toggle — disable that and you’re done. While you’re at it, you might just head into Privacy and disable search and site suggestions and usage data.

On Android? You’ll have to dig into the app’s flags and toggle the hidden setting there. Not as user-friendly.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch