Want An International Audience? Remember IE6.

As long-time readers know, I’m a harbinger of the past, however that works in light of the space-time continuum, and warn you (and my clients) to consider IE6 carefully when discussing browser compatibility. You cannot not consider it and must specifically choose to reject it. Don’t just let it fall out of decision-making because nobody uses it any more.

Except 108,480,000 Chinese Internet users.

According to data from Web analytics firm Net Applications, 45.2% of China’s Internet users still rely on IE6.

IE6’s usage share in China is more than five times that of the rest of the world, Net Applications said earlier this week when it released November’s statistics. IE6’s usage share in all countries other than China was just 7.6% last month.

The browser’s global average share, which includes China, was 14.6%.

China’s reliance on IE6 skews Net Applications’ results because the Aliso Viejo, Calif. weights its data by the Internet population of each country, a methodology it said provides a more accurate picture of browser usage worldwide.

According to estimates by Nielsen, China has approximately 420 million Internet users. By comparison, the U.S., which has the second-highest number of people online, counts about 240 million Web users.

Oh, yeah, 7.6% of 240,000,000 users would mean that, in the United States, 18,240,000 Web users run IE 6. That’s not a small number either.

This article points out that IE 6 has a 6% share in companies with fewer than 500 employees, but a 12% share in companies with more than 500. As I always warn, corporations that built expensive applications to, erm, take advantage of IE6, they’ll be slower to move into newer browsers and rewrite those internal applications to take advantage of the new technologies.

Don’t let your requirements gatherers overlook those numbers. You cannot wish IE 6 away.

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