How large is the Brave browser’s market share in the browser wars? A slew of technical hurdles make it difficult to count Brave’s user base, so no one has shared any market share analysis numbers that include Brave. Until now.
There is no definitive source for the total number of active web browser users. The only way to determine market shares among web browsers is to measure it. The go-to places for these measurements are becoming less and less relevant because advert and tracking blockers are slowly making their way to mainstream web browsers. The best source for browser market share data have been the numbers collected and published by the two web analytic providers StatCounter and HitsLink (Net Applications). These services measure what browsers people are using as they visit partner websites that have deployed their visitor-counter scripts. Brave blocks the tracking scripts from these two companies by default, so its users are excluded from these datasets.
User-Agent analysis has historically been the primary way to do browser market share research. Brave doesn’t fly under its own User-Agent, but masquerades as Google Chrome. It’s technically possible to detect Brave, but it wouldn’t do StatCounter and HitsLink any good as their counters are blocked from the browser anyway.
Kinsta, a WordPress hosting provider, has published the only independent numbers on web browser market share I could find that includes Brave. Kinsta wrongly claims that Brave’s market share is 0,05 percent. That number is based on incorrect assumptions and faulty data.
The text that goes with that number clarifies that the number represents the number of Chromium users according to StatCounter. Kinsta wrongly assumes that every browser that identifies as Chromium must be the Brave browser. This assumption would be wrong on its own, but Brave also identifies as Chrome and not Chromium. As previously discussed, StatCounter’s numbers don’t even include Brave users.
The only way to determine a web browser’s market share is to measure it. I’ve created a custom visitor-counting system for Ctrl blog, and it isn’t blocked by any major web browser. It can accurately differentiate between Chrome and Brave, and I’ve been actively recording the number of visitors using Brave for months.
I’ve analyzed this dataset to determine Brave’s market share among Ctrl blog readers. I excluded any article about web browsers from the dataset. These articles would have skewed the dataset as Brave users more often read articles about Brave, Firefox users read about Firefox, etc. I don’t uniquely track visitors, but I used the Cloudflare visitor-counting method to differentiate a visitor from a page view in my dataset.
Brave’s market share, at least among Ctrl blog readers, was 1,02 % as of 15th December 2020. For the last five months, its market share has steadily trended upward by 0,021 % month-over-month. Brave’s market share on Ctrl blog is unlikely to be representative of the whole global internet population. For a starter, Ctrl blog’s readerships is skewed towards technically-minded English readers.
Brave Software periodically publishes its number of active users, for marketing purposes. Its last number, published in , claimed it had 20 million active monthly users. This number hasn’t been independently verified, and should be considered a marketing exercise more than anything.
One percent may not sound like much, but one percent of all internet users — almost 5 billion people in 2020, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) — is roughly 50 million people. Not every internet user uses a web browser, though, so ITU’s figure doesn’t directly translate to the web browser market. If we combine Brave and ITU’s numbers, neither really suited for the task, then Brave’s market share is 0,41 percent.
Brave Software has operated an installation referral program for years, which has paid entrepreneuring internet users to promote its web browser. Brave discontinued its referral program in . I don’t know how many new installations were driven by the referral program. Anecdotally, I’ve seen Brave ads daily all over the web for at least the last year. However, I expect to see that Brave’s growth slow without the direct financial incentive to promote it.