1. I can’t work out why Google Chrome use grew so much in early 2009

    Posted December 9, 2010 in software  |  5 Comments so far

    A few days ago Google announced its new operating system, the Chrome OS – here’s a link to the official announcement.

    One thing that caught my eye was this graph showing the growth of the Chrome browser since its launch in 2008:

    Chrome usage since September 2008

    See the dip that comes only a few weeks in? I was part of that, because I abandoned Chrome around then too. If my experience is anything to go by, that dip was largely caused by people going back to Firefox because they missed the add-ons.

    You’ll also notice an even more dramatic upsurge that comes in the first quarter of 2009. What made so many people start using Chrome back then?

    It wasn’t support for extensions – they didn’t launch properly until January 2010. It might have been the Chrome TV ad, but that wasn’t aired until May 2009. So what could it have been? This is going to be annoying me all day…

  2. Online behaviour and the economic downturn

    Posted October 1, 2008 in research, strategy  |  No Comments so far

    Online intelligence service Hitwise released a report last week claiming that UK internet usage patterns were changing in response to the current economic situation. The full press release is here.

    Hitwise gathers its data by looking at the traffic logs of its clients’ websites, which number around 1,500. These websites are divided up into a range of categories and sub-categories. Hitwise is therefore aware of traffic volumes to sites in different categories, and has attempted to draw conclusions from changing patterns in these.

    This methodology may be imperfect—1,500 websites may sound like a lot but is just a drop in the ocean—but the findings seem to be intuitively correct. For around a year now the subject of how a slowdown would affect online behaviour has been coming up more and more frequently, and the general consensus has been that online retail and price comparison sites are not going to be as exposed to the effects of a drop in consumer spending. Smaller household budgets lead to an increase in price-sensitivity, and price-sensitive consumers spend more time researching and planning purchases as opposed to buying on impulse.

    An example of this in the Hitwise research is that traffic to what it identifies as price comparison, voucher or cashback sites increased by 20% between July 2007 and July 2008, after a slight drop in traffic to such sites between 2005 and 2007. Voucher sites seem to be the biggest beneficiaries (to the uninitiated, voucher sites collate promotional codes & vouchers from various retailers, which can be redeemed at checkout for discounts – here’s an example).

    However, another contributor to this trend could also be quite simply that British people have become, on average, more sophisticated online shoppers. It’ll be interesting to look at how traffic to voucher and price comparison sites bears up when the growth phase of the next business cycle begins. Will those sites become the online equivalents of Poundstretcher, shunned by all but the most price-sensitive? Or will they remain the first port of call for the clued-up online shopper?