In the battle of the browsers, the Facebook app takes an unlikely 3rd place

As big tech companies compete for user attention, mobile browsers have become an important battlefield.

Facebook’s mobile app has gotten so popular that its in-app browser accounts for as much as 13% of mobile web browsing in some areas, according to data collected by mobile analytics platform Mixpanel.

In the battle of the browsers, the Facebook app takes an unlikely 3rd place

And, if the data is anything to go by, in-app mobile browsers are becoming an important weapon in big-tech’s battle for attention.

Mobile browsing is a whole different ball game

While exact figures vary, analysts agree that Google’s Chrome browser — a consumer favorite — dominates desktop internet browsing with 57% market share (the next-most popular, Safari, has 14%; Firefox, 6%; Internet Explorer, 5.9%; and Opera, 3.7%). 

But, Mixpanel’s research shows that mobile browser usage depends mostly on the phone’s default web browser, not consumer choice. 

So, since more smartphones run on Apple’s iOS (65.5%) than Google’s Android (34.46%), use of Apple’s Safari browser tops Google’s Chrome on mobile with 58.06% market share compared to 32.48%. 

But the bronze medal doesn’t go to Firefox or Opera… 

It goes to Facebook, with 8.82% market share. That means that browsers run by Google, Apple and Facebook account for 99.36% of mobile browsing, and all other browsers combined account for less than 1%.

If you’re thinking, “Wow, I had no idea Facebook made its own browser,” you’re not crazy. 

Facebook doesn’t make a standalone browser: It just runs an in-app browser for users to access the web via Facebook’s app. 

So why does this matter?

Mobile internet browsing exceeded desktop browsing in 2016 and continues to increase. So as Google, Apple, and Facebook compete for attention, browsers are an important way to keep users engaged. 

When Facebook keeps users in its app (and not in default browsers like Chrome or Safari) it collects more data, which helps it serve more ads, which brings Mark Zuckerberg one step closer to immortality.

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