Mozilla's Asa Dotzler wants Google to start providing browser usage statistics again.
I completely agree.
Asa also thinks that Google's statistics will be more globally representative than what we have to day.
That, I don't agree with. …
Now, Asa has recently come to the same conclusion I came to some time ago: Current browser statistics are completely unreliable. But just because what we have today is flawed doesn't mean that we should replace it with something which could be equally flawed.
Maybe browser statistics from Google would be more representative than what we have today, but the problem is that there's simply no way to know. As a matter of fact, I can think of at least a couple of huge sources of error of the top of my head.
For example, Google has been pushing browsers like Firefox and Chrome heavily through their sites, which means that users of Google services are much more likely to use those browsers.
Google has also been showing "your browser is not supported" messages at times, which obviously means that people will either leave the service, or switch to a supported browser. In other words, Google can, to a certain degree, decide what its own browser statistic should look like.
Another problem is that Google really isn't that huge in all markets. Baidu seems to be dominant in China, Yandex is not far behind Google in Russia, and so on. This means that markets where the browser landscape might look completely different from Google's main markets will be seriously undercounted.
These issues will be in addition to the general problems with all browser statistics, such as different caching in different browsers, "User-Agent" string masking, and so on.
So while I would definitely welcome browser statistics from Google, if only out of curiosity, I fear that these statistics wouldbe misinterpreted the way current sources of browser stats like StatCounter and Net Applications are, as actually having a verified representative sample of the global internet population.
One step forward, and one step back again. That won't get people anywhere 🙂