With the Firefox 4 release almost upon us, Google having quietly shipped Chrome 10 last week, and IE 9 released yesterday, it’s time for another comparison of how the different browser makers support language communities. Here’s the headlines:
|Firefox 4 (predicted)||73||93.7%|
For those just tuning in, these stats come from an large spreadsheet where I take the internet population of each country, divide it as best I can among that country’s language communities, and thereby try and predict what percentage of the world’s internet users have first language support in the UI of each browser. The standard disclaimer: I have adopted a possibly controversial and idiosyncratic definition of what is a language; please don’t beat me around the head with it, but focus on the big picture.
There’s a load of interesting stuff behind the headlines:
- There are 37 languages whose speakers are out of luck if they go and see Microsoft, but who we cater for. Every single translation we have is done by volunteers in our community. The power of open source!
- Firefox 4.0 has more languages than Firefox 3.6 but a lower percentage. That’s because, sadly, we were unable to get Serbian and Vietnamese on board for the Firefox 4.0 final release. Vietnamese accounts for 1.32% of the world’s internet population, and Serbian another 0.25%. These two languages account for the drop, and also mean that our language set is not a strict superset of those provided by IE (and why the figure above is 37, not 35).
- However, since Firefox 3.6 we have gained Akan, Asturian, Breton, Bosnian, Gaelic, Armenian, Lugandan, Mailithi, Sepedi, Songhay, and Zulu. A strong African contingent there :-)
- IE gets to a higher percentage than Opera with fewer languages primarily because Opera does not have an Arabic version (worth 3.2%).
- Between Chrome 8 and 10, they seem to have lost Tagalog, Kazakh and Hebrew, which makes a big difference to their percentage (-2%). It could be that these languages will come along post-release; I don’t have a window into their process.
- None of the browsers now has a Tagalog version, despite it being (as far as I can see) a very large market. Do Philippines computer users just use the English versions?
Feel free to look at the numbers and post about anything interesting you find :-) Updates to the data which splits a country’s internet population into language groups would be particularly welcome.