How Google Chrome is Growing in India and Hurting Microsoft and Mozilla [Editorial]

India has had a history of being a tech savvy country for more than a decade now. The adaption rate of newer technology in India has been higher than many other countries, which is why there are around 840 million mobile users (TRAI data – PDF File). However, hardly 10-15% of the Indian population have access to internet.

Indian Internet Penetration

According to public data available in Google, the total internet users in India was over 61 million in 2009. This should be more than 100 million now. However, this is a really small number considering a population of 1.2 billion. Nevertheless, this is still 1/3rd of the population of U.S. on which most of the metrics and measurements are made.

This definitely makes India a very lucrative market and considering the growing economy and purchasing power there it should definitely be. Consider this, when I bought my first mobile phone in 2002 or so (it was a Motorola), I parted with Rs. 4500 (~$115) with a heavy heart. This was a second hand phone with no contracts etc. Coming back to 2011, I see people splurging Rs. 20,000-30,000+ for a mobile phone without blinking an eye. This shows how the spending power has increased in India.

Looking at some of the public data available today, I was intrigued to look at who is dominating the market and guess what, it is none other than good old Google. I did some research and here are some facts on how Google is dominating the browser market which was once the forts of Microsoft and Mozilla.

Browser Growth in India


Recently, there were quite a few blog posts about overtaking 20% market share worldwide in the Internet browser market. In those cases, people were measuring Global traffic (U.S market share is still below 20%). However, one region where Google Chrome is really putting the pressure on Internet Explorer  and is India.

Browser Stats - April to June 2011 India

Take for example the above chart which displays the usage for Google Chrome in India for the past three months. The total usage for IE was around 36%, Firefox was around 33% and Chrome was around 27%.

Browser Stats June 2011 India

The scenario remained the same if you take June 2011 into consideration. No surprises there.

Browser Stats July 2011 India

However, if we now take a look at the stats for July 2011 (which is only for 8 days), you will see a huge jump in the number of users who are using Google Chrome. Of course, this data is premature, but it does reflect a huge jump. What could be the reason? It could be anything any everything including more and more users shifting to Google Chrome thanks to .

The %age gain in the above graph may not look significant, but even a 1-2% jump might mean that around 2 million users switched to Google Chrome in the last 8 days, that is a significant number in itself. The loser was Internet Explorer which shed their percentage. Firefox remained almost stagnant.

Browser Versions in India

Browser Versions India June 2011

In June 2011, was the most used browser in India followed by Google Chrome 12 and . Firefox 5 which launched last month was at 8, followed by Internet Explorer 9 which launched earlier this year. There were several other users who were using outdated browsers, but the growth of the latest stable version of Google Chrome is significant.

Browser Versions India July 2011

However, July 2011 tells a completely different story altogether. Chrome 12 has jumped to become the number 1 browser in India by a huge margin followed by Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 5. The traffic measured during this period might not add up when we see monthly stats at the end of July 2011, but it is definitely surprising that there is such a huge difference.

Looking Back and Summarizing the Future

In 2009, Google Chrome had a 8% market in India even though it was released only in September 2008. This says a lot because it took market share from both Firefox and IE and jumped who have been languishing at the bottom for quite sometime now. A new browser gaining so much traction was unknown prior to that. During that same period, Google Chrome’s worldwide market share was around 2%.

In 2010, Google Chrome had a 10% market share worldwide, whereas in India it had a 18% market share. The growth rate more than double for Indian users. Since January 2011 till date, Google Chrome has a 26% market share in India whereas the worldwide usage is still less than 20%.

All in all, Indian users have adapted Google Chrome at a much higher rate than any other country and this definitely means that they are moving ahead towards newer technology. The adaption rate for Firefox in these periods have either remained the same or have dropped, similar for Internet explorer.

India is definitely a lucrative market for Internet Browsers, Mobile Phones and Operating systems. This goes on to show where these companies will invest in the future. Even if the internet usage in India grows by 20-30% all these companies will be vying for around 300 million users, and that is not a small number by any denomination.

So how did this happen? Money power, sheer brilliance or the power of Google? I will leave that to another editorial I will write in the next few days. Till then, tell me your thoughts through your comments.

(All stats in this post were collected using Google, TRAI and Stat Counter)

Opera Releases First Snapshot of Opera 12, Codenamed Wahoo

In keeping with its tradition of fast paced development, Opera Software has released the first snapshot of the successor to Swordfish just eight days after its release. Swordfish or Opera 11.50, which was released last week, has so far been downloaded more than 32 million times, making it the most successful launch ever.


The successor to Swordfish is being codenamed Wahoo, which is one of the fastest tropical fishes in the world. The first snapshot only features bug-fixes and minor enhancements. New features will be introduced at a later stage. Since Opera Software is numbering Wahoo as Opera 12, there should be a fairly meaty changelog by the time it reaches the beta phase. One feature which seems to be a no-brainer is the addition of cross-platform support for WebGL and hardware accelerated compositing. This is something Opera has been working on for quite some time, and was demoed earlier in the year in an Opera Labs build. Moreover, Opera recently began to work on a HTML5 port of Emberwind, a popular indie game. That could very well be something that Opera Software intends to use to highlight the performance benefits of hardware acceleration.

You can download the first snapshot of Opera 12 from the Desktop Team blog. A pre-alpha build can and probably will have usability issues. However, you can safely try it on your system since it will be installed separately from your main Opera installation.

Opera Mobile and Opera Mini Receives Google Suggest and Auto-complete

As usual, Opera Software has been keeping itself busy. Just a couple of days after releasing Swordfish (Opera 11.50), it has pumped out another update. Opera Mini 6.1 and Opera Mobile 11.1 for a wide range of platforms have been released.

Opera-Mobile-Mini-Auto-CompleteAs suggested by the version number, this is a fairly minor update. There are two main improvements. The first one is support for auto-suggest for search engines. Currently, this feature is only available for Google and Yandex. The second enhancement is the addition of auto-complete for forms. Both of these are features that users had been requesting for quite some time. We have a saying at Opera: Listen to our users,said Dag Olav Norem, VP Product Management, Opera Software. As a company, we are constantly listening to our users on what they want in their browser. So, to our most vocal consumers, thank you and keep the feedback coming!

Opera Mini is mainly aimed at feature phones that don’t have enough power to run a full-fledged browser. The task of rendering websites is offloaded to Opera’s remote servers. They process the webpages and send a static representation back to the browser. It also compresses the webpages, which results in faster browsing on slower networks, and reduces bandwidth consumption. Although Opera Mini was initially intended for feature phones, it is now available for Android and iOS also. Smartphone owners who are on a slow network or a metered connection can use Opera Mini for a faster and cheaper browsing experience. Opera Mobile is the full-fledged mobile browsing solution that uses the same Presto rendering engine as the desktop browser. This means that Opera Mobile supports advanced HTML5 and CSS3 features, and is capable of running client-side scripts.

You can download the latest version of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile from

Opera 11.50 Introduces Speed Dial Extensions and Featherweight Skin

Opera Software has unleashed Swordfish, its latest and greatest offering. Unlike a couple of its competitors, the Norwegian browser maker has stuck to the old school release cycle, and as you might expect from a significant version bump such as this, this release has its fair share of new features.

The highlight of Opera 11.50 is speed dial extensions, which we had previewed earlier. Until now speed dials were simple static thumbnails of your favorite websites. However, speed dial extension allows you to run little web apps within your new tab page.

My favorite speed dial extension is the weather extension, which embeds live weather information in the speed dial itself. Opera is also highlighting speed dial extensions from Read It Later, Webdoc, The Hype Machine, and StockTwits.

Opera has also tweaked the speed dial layout. It features an enhanced zoom slider, and suggests new speed dials based on your most visited websites, and popular speed dial extensions. However, the suggestion feature could do with some tweaking, as sometimes it ended up suggesting extensions that I had already installed.

Opera 11.50 also features a significantly retouched skin called Featherweight. Featherweight sports brighter, softer colors for backgrounds and borders, a new borderless icon set, and a new tab fold attention state. On the whole, featherweight further enhances the visual appeal of Opera, at least on Windows. Check out my earlier coverage for a more in-depth look at Opera’s new skin.

Opera on Windows, Linux and Mac

The final big change is the inclusion of password synchronization. This was a feature that was in the works for a long time, and has finally been deemed to be secure enough for inclusion in Opera. Using Opera Link you can now sync you passwords across operating systems, platforms, and systems.

Swordfish also has significant under the hood improvements. It uses the new Presto 2.9 rendering engine with better standards support. The new release boasts of improved CSS parsing speed, cookie sharing between the browser and extensions, and 10-15% faster on SVG rendering.

To be honest, of late, Opera seems to have lost a bit of its touch when it comes to developing insanely cool and innovation features. Google has been the main driving force behind a lot of the innovation over the past few years. Whether it is user oriented features like automatic translation and chrome applications, or technical stuff like desktop notifications API and speech API, Chrome has been the browser that has been getting geeks all over the world excited. On the other hand, Opera was late with Carakan, its JavaScript engine capable of native code generation. It was late with its geolocation support. Now, it will again be late with WebGL and hardware compositing support. Hopefully, Opera will be able to integrate the cross-platform hardware acceleration features that it had demoed earlier in the next major release.

Opera Swordfish is a handsome improvement over Barracuda, and is definitely worth checking out. Opera still has features like Notes, Tab Stacking, and Visual Tabs that other browsers lack. You can download the latest release from, which is also hosting a live download counter.

Google Chrome Now Blocks Insecure Scripts on HTTPS

JavaScript is a scripting language which is used to provide a lot of functionalities to users without them noticing it. It also powers some of the best known web services out there including and more. However, that a faulty or rogue JavaScript can also cause havoc on your system?

Well, how would you know that unless your browser told it? However, not all browsers tell you when a JavaScript is insecure, but you can count as your friend in this case (at-least the dev version on HTTPS), because it has started to block Insecure scripts while you are browsing a website on a HTTPS connection.

Chrome Blocks Insecure Scripts

As you can see from the above screenshot, Google Chrome now shows you a message saying that it has blocked an insecure script from running on the browser, whilst proving you an option to "Load Anyway". This is done to protect users from running harmful scripts on their system.

This behavior in Google Chrome is similar to them blocking users from accessing harmful websites that they have in their database an will be useful in protecting users.

The help page on this topic shows what Google is doing exactly:

When a website is secured via HTTPS, the web site designer must also ensure that all of the scripts used by the page will be delivered in the same secure manner as the main page itself. The same requirements also apply to the plugins and external CSS stylesheets used by the page, as these have the same considerations as javascript.

When this is not the case (sometimes called a mixed scriptsituation), visitors to the site run the risk that attackers can interfere with the website and change the script so as to serve their own purposes.

Traditionally, browsers have run the mixed script, genuine or not, and notified you after-the-fact by a broken lock icon, a dialog box, or a red https:// in the location bar (in the case of Google Chrome). The problem with this approach is that by the time the script has run, it is already too late, because the script has had access to all of the data on the page.

Google Chrome now protects you by refusing up-front to run any script on a secure page unless it is also being delivered over HTTPS. Data on the page remains secure even in the presence of an attacker, but the downside is that this may cause pages to display improperly. You may wish to let the website owner know that their site is not properly secured. (Note that a poorly-written extension can also sometimes cause this).

You can bypass this protection by clicking Allow Anyway, in which case Google Chrome will refresh the page and load the insecure content. You will then see an https:// displayed in red in the location bar indicating that the page could not be secured.

The above description says that Chrome is only blocking scripts which are served through non-HTTPS on a HTTPS connection. Hopefully, the will improve this behavior and also display the same message on the browser when a known rogue script is running on a website.

Opera Software Loses Co-Founder Jon von Tetzchner

Opera Software lost its first co-founder, Geir Ivarsøy, in 2006 under tragic circumstances. Now, it has lost its other co-founder as Jon S. von Tetzchner has decided to quit the company.

Jon-Tetzchner“It is of course a choice that brings up a lot of emotions”, says von Tetzchner. “When we first started out, we were a few guys in a really small office – now we are spread all over the world, have over 740 employees and over 200 million users. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, and look forward to following the company closely also in the future.”

Opera began as a research project inside Telenor, the Norwegian telecom giant. In 1995, Tetzchner and Ivarsøy spun it off as an independent company, and established Opera Software. The first build of Opera (called MultiTorg) never saw the light of day, but Opera 2.1 was released in 1997.

Although, Opera is still a minor player in the desktop segment, it has made its presence felt through continuous innovation. Opera helped pioneer tabbed browsing, and was behind many popular features like search engine bar and speed dials. The company advocated strongly in favor of web standards and “One Web” before most others, and reaped the benefit of its vision by securing a dominant position in the mobile market.

After being the CEO of Opera for fifteen years, Tetzchner stepped down in January 2010, as Opera’s revenue slumped unexpectedly. Lars Boilesen took over the reins, and has since led Opera Software to record breaking highs by streamlining Opera’s operations and focusing on operator partnerships. Jon stayed on as a strategic advisor, and served as the public face of the company.

Boilesen bid farewell to Tetzchner with the following statement:

We had a lot of fun during these years, and to say that Jon has created a great company is an understatement. He has taught me and everyone working here a lot. He believed in, and pushed out innovation after innovation that we see our competitors constantly struggling with copying, making Opera a first mover in the technological development of web browsers as we know them today. We are very proud of Jon, and of course of the company. We are aiming at 500 million users by 2013, and we have a very positive flow right now.

Tetzchner will be staying with Opera Software till 30th of June. Although he didn’t divulge what his next project will be, we wish the man who created one of the most innovative and path breaking browsers all the best.

Update: TechCrunch has leaked an email sent by Tetzchner to Opera employees, in which he makes it clear that he is quitting due to differences with the board.

Dear All,

It is with a heavy heart that I send this message. Next week will be my
last at Opera. It has become clear that The Board, Management and I do not
share the same values and we do not have the same opinions on how to keep
evolving Opera. As a result I have come to an agreement with the Board to
end my time at Opera. I feel the Board and Management is more quarterly
focused than me. I have always worked to build the company for the future.
I believe the foundation we have is very solid to build further upon.

I do believe strongly in Opera as a company, and in all of you working
here. Our products actually make a difference for a lot of people in the
world, and I wish you all the best of luck moving forward. I will be
following the company closely and rooting for you all.

Yours truly,

Firefox 5 Review

Mozilla-Firefox-5After Firefox 4 was plagued by innumerable delays, Mozilla did some course-correction and decided to switch from a traditional release cycle to the quick release cycle used by Google Chrome. As a result, Firefox 5 arrived in record time. However, how good is Firefox 5? Let’s have a look.

At first glance, Firefox 5 looks and feels identical to Firefox 4. In fact, even after using it for a couple of days, I couldn’t tell the difference between Firefox 4 and 5. A quick look at the changelog confirmed that Firefox 5 has barely any new features of note. Yeah, it fixes close to a thousand bugs, and takes care of some serious security issues; however, it has very few new goodies to offer.

The biggest feature in Firefox 5 is that the “Do Not Track” feature, which we have discussed in a fair amount of detail in the past, is now more accessible. It is now available under the Privacytab, instead of being buried under Advancedoptions. Yep, the biggest user-perceivable change in Firefox 5 is a minor interface tweak.


Other than this, Firefox 5 adds supports for CSS animations, improves canvas, JavaScript, memory, and networking performance, and improves standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas. As mentioned earlier, it also fixes some extremely critical security issues. Five of the vulnerabilities patched were rated as critical, and a couple were rated as high risk by Mozilla. Two of these issues dealt with WebGL, which has making headlines of late due to Microsoft’s allegation that it will become an on-going source of hard to fix vulnerabilities.

To be honest, Firefox 5 doesn’t merit being called anything other than Firefox 4.02. However, Google has been doing the same thing for quite some time, and has been getting away with it. Mozilla has announced that it doesn’t plan on maintaining the Firefox 4.x trunk, so users have no choice but to jump aboard Firefox 5 in order to stay secure. Firefox 5 is a great browser, because Firefox was already a great browser. However, Firefox 5 brings very little to the table other than improved security, and the additional headache of incompatible extensions.

Opera Introduces New Featherweight Skin for Windows, Linux, and Mac

Opera Software has been regularly releasing Swordfish (Opera 11.50) snapshots for the past couple of months or so. We reviewed the major enhancements introduced in the Swordfish beta in an earlier article. Since, then Opera Software has worked away at fixing crashes and other bugs, adding usability enhancements, updating the rendering engine (Presto), and tweaking the speed dial. The newest snapshot, however, moves away from behind the scene changes, and focuses on the visual aspects.

Opera Software has just unveiled Featherweight, the new skin for Opera. Featherweight is all about making Opera “as light, bright and user-friendly as possible”. “We want the user interface to match the speed of our rendering engine”, wrote Opera’s graphic designer Jan Henrik Helmers. The highlights of the new skin are:

Opera Featherweight on Windows, Linux, and Mac

  • Brand new toolbar icon set
  • Brighter, softer colors for backgrounds and borders
  • Padding and alignment improvements
  • Updated status bar design and content
  • No more button borders in the address bar
  • The Home and Fast Forward buttons now optional
  • New “tab fold” attention state – no more blue blob
  • New window gradient for OS X

Opera Featherweight Tab Fold

I have been using the Featherweight skin for the past couple of hours, and the new skin definitely feels fresh and bright. There are numerous minor tweaks all over the place. For example, the ugly blue dots, which were previously used to indicate that the page has new content, have been replaced with much more subtler “tab fold” indicators (pictured above). All of these changes gel together to give a polished, cohesive, and modern appeal to Opera. I’ve been working with the Opera folks on the featherweight skin recently, and there is more to come! As always, not everything makes it…, teased famed designer Jon Hicks, who has helped shape the visual appearance of most Opera products across platforms. You can download the latest snapshot from here. However, keep in mind that Opera Next releases can be buggy and unstable.

Solutions For Firefox 5 Crashes – Firefox 5 Crashes After Install

Firefox 5 was released before schedule with far less fanfare than Firefox 5 is now also available for Ubuntu. If you have already upgraded to 5, you might be able to enjoy all the latest features it has. However, a lot of users are complaining about Firefox 5 crashing after installation among other problems.

Firefox 5

Though there is no specific reason for Firefox 5 crashes, you could try out one of the several solutions listed below to see if it helps to solve your problem.

Bad Installation

One of the main reasons behind Firefox crashing could be a bad installation. This could be caused due to several reasons. One of the solutions would be to backup your Firefox data and then completely uninstall it from your system.

Once you have done that, download Firefox 5 again and do a clean install. This should more likely than not stop FF5 from crashing.

Disable All Extensions and Themes

When Firefox is updated, some outdated extensions could cause problems which might lead to crashes. Firefox add-on manager provides you an easy way to disable out-dated extensions. Make use of the add-on manager to disable those extensions and restart Firefox to see if that solves your problem.

Use Different Profile

If you are not keen on uninstalling and installing Firefox or cannot disable the , you could try creating a fresh new profile in Firefox. You will instructions on creating and managing new Firefox profiles in this Mozilla support article.   

Debug Crashes

Now you might not be a programmer, but you can run some basic crash debugging by going through the points listed in the Mozilla support topic. You can submit your crash reports to Mozilla or contact them to see if there is a solution to your problem.

If none of these work, try downloading an older version of Firefox and installing it to see if it solves those crashes. If not, you could switch to a temporary browser like , or Internet Explorer 9 till an update is available from Firefox.

Microsoft Gets Slammed for Its Hypocritical Stance on WebGL

Last week, I reported that Microsoft won’t be supporting WebGL in Internet Explorer due to security concerns. WebGL is a cross-platform 3D graphics API for the web that enables web applications running in the browser to do all sorts of cool stuff. Currently all the major browser vendors apart from Microsoft (i.e. Mozilla, Google, Opera, and Apple) actively support the WebGL initiative. Microsoft gave a pretty detailed technical explanation of their issues with WebGL, which led me to remark that Microsoft might be doing the right thing for a change. However, I might have been too hasty in giving the software giant, which has built a reputation of not willing to play nice, the clean chit.

One of the things I have long criticized tech-giants like Microsoft and Apple for is hypocrisy. As it turns out, the latest WebGL vs. Microsoft incident is another glowing example of the same. The biggest problem with Microsoft’s criticism of WebGL was first highlighted by Opera Software’s HÃ¥vard K. Moen and later elaborated upon by Google’s Gregg Tavares.

Microsoft: Criticizes something WebGL is doing. Does the exact same thing with Silverlight. Sigh.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

It appears that Microsoft’s security consciousness magically vanishes as soon as it moves away from WebGL, with which it has clear conflicts of interests. WebGL is based on OpenGL, which is the main competitor of Microsoft’s DirectX. Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s own Silverlight suffers from many of the same drawbacks highlighted by Microsoft. However, Microsoft has no qualms about allowing these plug-ins to work on Internet Explorer. Tavares, who has been working on Chrome’s GPU acceleration and WebGL features, is understandably furious.

The latest FUD is Microsoft’s claim that they won’t support WebGL because it’s insecure. They might have a little more credibility if they weren’t promoting a technology, Silverlight 5, that provides the EXACT SAME FEATURES with all the same issues. They can’t have it both ways. Either it’s possible to make this tech safe or else it’s not. If it is possible to make it safe in Silverlight 5 then it’s also just as possible in WebGL. If it’s not possible to make it safe Microsoft would have to come out and say (1) They are removing GPU access from Silverlight 5. (2) They are banning Unity3D from running in IE since it also provides access to the EXACT SAME FEATURES. (3) They are banning Flash 11 from running in IE since it also provides access to the EXACT SAME FEATURES.

He also alleges that the research done by ContextIS into the security vulnerabilities present in WebGL was sponsored by Microsoft. If that is true, then this won’t be the first time that Microsoft has done something like this. However, at the very least, the results presented by ContextIS aren’t manipulated like the ones by NSS labs.

Tavares also tackled the main objections raised by Microsoft. One of the objections was related to denial of service, wherein a malicious process can prevent other processes from accessing the services of the GPU by asking the GPU to process something that takes too long.

The simplest solution is to time how long the GPU is taking to execute each task. If it’s taking too long reset the GPU and kill the page that issued the command. Microsoft Windows is one of the only OSes that currently provides this solution. They should be proud of this. They can basically claim the best place to run WebGL is on Windows. The Khronos group is working to bring similar functionality to other OSes as fast as possible and it may already be available in some drivers.
Of course it’s completely unacceptable if your machine gets DOSed. My only point is (1) there are fixes, Windows already support them and they are coming soon to other OSes. (2) it’s not has (sic) bad as your machine getting owned. In fact most likely very soon now, if a page takes too long on the GPU it will be marked bad by the browser. If you try to visit it again you’ll be warned. Similarly using techniques like Safe Browsingwe can warn you in advance while we work on providing the real fixes in all OSes.

The other point raised by Microsoft was that WebGL provides low-level hardware access in a way that is overly permissive. Bugs present in the graphics driver can create serious security issues. Tavares suggests that sandboxing coupled with a multi-process architecture can go a long way towards solving these issues. Google currently parallelizes all WebGL calls. Before anything is passed to the GPU, Chrome performs strict validation and even tries to work around several known GPU driver bugs.

Undoubtedly, the current status of WebGL is far from ideal. However, it’s still a work in progress, and the Khronos group is still busy tying up all the loose ends. One thing that is for certain is that WebGL is essential for cross-platform, cutting-edge, next-gen web applications that will blur the line between native and web applications.