For anyone hosting a website, analytics will play a part in knowing how effective the site is in terms of how many visitors there are, which pages are being read, how long people are spending on the site etc. However, there’s potentially a lot more value in this data with regards to an understanding of technology in general and how people are using it. Take for example a standard Google Analytics display, in this instance for a week’s worth of traffic to a popular Linux based forum.

Nothing particularly interesting here except maybe an indication of how many people use the site. Drill down a little though and you can turn up more insights like the operating systems people are using, which might not be quite what you expect;

Surprised or not? On the one hand maybe Windows users aren’t interested in Linux Forums, but on the other hand apparently the vast majority of people use Windows on their desktop computers. Another interesting thought for mobile users, maybe a more interesting indication given Linux users would not inherently be tied to an Android phone;

This ties in with the sorts of numbers I’m seeing published with regards to Android vs iPhone in terms of sales volumes, which does sort of buck the expression I hear all too frequently; “doesn’t everyone have an iPhone”? Then we come to browsers, as a long time Chrome user, I have a habit of assuming that everyone uses Chrome and that a fair few people are still using Microsoft originated browsers. A quick snapshot here would indicate that neither is necessarily true;

So still a few people using Firefox, but in this instance Chrome and Firefox seem to have the Lion’s share of the market.


At this point I’d like to mention Netcraft who’ve been watching the Internet for almost as long the Internet has been a thing in the UK, maybe all the way back to 1994. Whereas google catalogue the contents of websites, thus providing a global search platform, Netcraft catalogue the websites and servers that host the content, providing a huge amount of information about the Internet and the changing way it’s used. To give you a flavour, here’s what they’re holding about Now there’s a scary amount of technical detail in there, but the point being there’s a lot they can deduce and track.

Excerpt from Netcraft website –

Just taking a look at the number of websites available on the Internet, the rise in the 90’s was pretty dramatic, but looking ad the last 5 years, so is the apparent tail-off and possibly even decline in the number of web-sites out there.

What’s the point of all this ?

Other than it’s generically interesting to know what’s going on in the World, for anyone in business it’s worth knowing your market. If for example (referencing the above chart) you’re looking to set up a new company to provide website hosting, it’s worth being aware that there are apparently not huge numbers of people queuing up to publish new websites, although if you take a look at some of the charts that log website changes, it may provide an insight in the number if websites that are being re-designed.

Maybe more to the point from my personal experience, if you’re looking to launch a new mobile application for your business solution, anyone insisting that an iPhone app is all you really need because everyone uses an iPhone, should probably check out some analytics first ..

About the author

Gareth Bult

Gareth is a long time Linux User and enthusiast and currently works for Mad Penguin Consulting Ltd as a Full-stack / Python developer.