Google Analytics data shows Microsoft Windows losing market-share due to phones & tablets

Microsoft Windows lost a big chunk of the global browsing market, according to the first report from Google on web trends.

The survey, based on data from “hundreds of thousands” of websites that use Google’s free Analytics (web tracking) service, shows Windows dropping by a whopping 5.1 percentage points in its share of browsing computers.

From being present on 89.9% of all computers that came to these sites in late 2009 and early 2010, the proportion of devices with Windows has dropped to 84.8% for the three months ended January this year.

The big gainer is “other”, indicating a clear influence of the rising contribution of mobile devices to overall browsing.

From 5% of all devices, “other operating systems” rose to 9.3% of all devices that were served by these websites that use Google Analytics.

The two others — Macintosh and Linux — also saw slight improvement, with the former moving from 4.5% of the devices to 5.2% while Linux moved from 0.6% to 0.7% of the total browsing devices.

Microsoft is notorious for having failed to convert its nearly 90% market share among full-size PCs to anything nearly as dominant on cell-phones and tablets. It is expected to have only around a 5% share among cell-phones, while almost nothing in the tablet market.

As more and more users log in through these devices, Microsoft’s share of browser operating system also goes down proportionately.

Interestingly, a large part of the “other” operating system may be Google’s own Android. The Android phone is estimated to have around 20-25% of the smart-phone user-base, though it has reached the halfway mark in sales of new smart phones.

Some of the other could also be Windows mobile, as using an Opera Mini browser on a Windows mobile device would ‘hide’ the real operating system of the phone. Opera has its own server which acts as an intermediary between the phone and the website, thus blocking data about the phone from reaching the website and Google Analytics.

It was not immediately clear whether the iPhone visits are part of the “other” operating system or the Macintosh operating system category. Technically, iPhone and iPad OS is called iOS, while Apple’s PC OS is called Macintosh or Mac OS or OS-X.

The proportion is calculated on the basis of individual visits, rather than individual devices. In other words, if users of Apple Macintosh iOS tend to surf more compared to others, their share would be higher than would be the case if only the number of devices were being counted.

The Operating System running the device which is being served by the website is identified by the information sent by the user’s browser. Usually, all browsers give information about themselves and the operating system on which they are deployed to the websites to ensure proper formatting of the page from the server.

Interestingly, another curious metric — the share of browsers like Firefox and Chrome — has not been disclosed.

Interestingly, the data also showed that the US online users are the most “sticky” in terms of the time spent on a single website per visit.

For example, they spent an average of 6 minutes and 6 seconds per visit, while their UK peers spent 5 minutes 38 seconds per visit to a web site. The lowest number was for the Chinese and Japanese, at 3:46 minutes (see chart.) The highest number of pages seen per visit, however, belonged to the UK, with 4.9 pages per visit.

However, Google Analytics pointed out that all these trends (of time, pages etc.) were on the downward trend.

“Compared to a year ago, websites have seen reduced pages / visit, average time on site, as well as bounce rate,” it pointed out.

The data also showed that around 28% of all visits are made as a result of a referral by a search engine. Only 37% of the users logged in directly to the website, without going first to a search engine.

Other sites, such as twitter and facebook, (referral sites) accounted for 19.4% of all the traffic.

All the numbers are based on a section of the customers of Google’s free traffic-tracking tool called Google Analytics. The tool is by far the biggest traffic-tracking tool in use in the world, though only a section of its users have authorized Google to include their data in this particular report.

Websites have to embed a code snippet in each of their web-pages to use Google Analytics. When that page is displayed, the code sends details such as the users’ web-browser make, operating system, duration of visits, origin etc. to Google’s servers.