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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Tech Specs of the Chinese Internet User

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Chinese Internet users rarely use a different browser than the one they find in their operating system.

Over 394 million Chinese people currently browse through Internet Explorer, or IE. Of them, around 110 million still use IE6, an out-dated version that Microsoft has been trying to supress since early 2011.

Here’s a quick overview of the current browser usage across the country:

Chinese Browser Usage Jan 2013, Baidu Tongji

And here is a graph analysing worldwide browser usage (includes China):

Additional findings:

In China, IE6 and IE7 usage has dropped 10% compared to 12 months ago.

IE6 usage in China is still 3 times higher than the World’s average.

Firefox wins the battle over Chrome worldwide, but has a mere 1.3% of the market in China.

Windows XP is still dominating with a shocking 70%.

Our Takeaway:

One of our responsibilities here at Mailman is to ensure that every project provides a consistent user experience across any browsers your potential customers might use.

You can imagine how difficult that can be when Chinese users seem reluctant to update their browsers or switch to Chrome or Firefox. To make matters worse, some Chinese that DO switch browsers, switch to Chinese browsers that are using old IE engines.

Besides us developers having to employ extra development time and testing, there are other problems that might incur with old browser usage:

1. The end user doesn’t get the full experience.

In some cases developers will make a site compatible with older browsers, but leave out some of the more advanced techniques. By using an old browser the end user is limiting himself.

2. The end user is an easy target for internet criminals

Old browsers contain loads of bugs and security vulnerabilities. It is therefore important to update to stay protected. New vulnerabilities are found on daily basis (hence the reason web browsers are updated so heavily). By not updating, the end user is a sitting duck for internet criminals that will use these vulnerabilities to install malicious software on their computers.

The solution?

It’s all about raising awareness. The good folks at IE6 Countdown have been trying to supress the usage of IE6 for two years now, with an overall worldwide success, except for in China. Luckily 2013 has seen quite a drop and hopefully this trend will continue.

I believe if China’s Internet giants (Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu) were involved in the matter, word of mouth would spread faster and Internet users would start modernizing their systems. Maybe if Taobao, China’s main b2c e-commerce site, started adding an extra fee for out-dated browser users…

Who knows what could happen?

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