Webfonts update: WOFF format now supported by all major browsers

What a day! Apple didn’t only gave us Mac OS X Lion, no Apple’s Safari is also supporting the WOFF format. Last year at the Webfontday in Munich, ATypI in Ireland and many more conferences, speakers already predicted that the WOFF format is going to be the most widely supported format. Finally, this has happened!

WOFF browser support, July 21st 2011

WOFF browser support, July 21st 2011

Browser market shares in 2011:

Apart from the support question, you should also take a look on browser market shares to fully understand the current situation and what it means to you if you plan to use webfonts. Regarding browser market share, Internet Explorer is still number 1 with roughly 60%. However, 34% of those IE users are browsing the web in version IE 8 although Microsoft spent millions on an advertising campaign to accelerate the adoption of IE 9. With roughly 22% market share Firefox is number 2, followed by Chrome with 11,6% and Safari with 6,6% (all numbers by ars technica).

Worldwide browser market share, March 2011

“So why the hubbub around Safari supporting WOFF?”, some might ask. Here are the answers:

First, Apple’s browser was the last major browser to support WOFF, or in other words, the last major browser to acknowledge the W3C’s, Jonathan Kew’s, Tal Leming’s, and Erik van Blokland’s efforts to establish a common format for webfonts, and finally, also the power and importance of webfonts.

Second, Apple is, without any doubt from my side, an industry leader who is setting standards for many companies. So the acknowledgement of WOFF as the dominant format for webfonts, will accelerate the foothold of WOFF support immensely.

Third, apart from scalability and crawlability, webfonts are being used for better branding and for a more beautiful web. Who cares about a beautiful web? Well, mostly surfers interested in design and new media. And within this focus group, which has a strong impact on other users, the market share of Safari is much higher compared with worldwide market shares.

Let’s take our own website www.Linotype.com as an example for design-related websites: Firefox lands the biggest share with roughly 38%. Internet Explorer comes next with about 25%. And now it’s getting interesting: Chrome and Safari are both closely at 18%!

Browser share for www.Linotype.com, 2011

So this gives us a completely different picture compared to worldwide browser market share. Looking at worldwide market share and IE’s dominant position again, you have to keep in mind that the main reason for IE’s dominance is that IE ships with PCs who run Microsoft OSs, and Microsoft still holds a PC market share of 92,2% with Apple and Google gaining ground (all numbers by Computerworld).

To my mind, we passed the stage of the Early Adoption phase for webfonts, and are now entering the phase of the Early Majority, but there are still many website owners who don’t use webfonts because support from all major browsers was missing. This has now come to an end!

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