I took a blank country map of Europe and colored it in; orange is countries with significant Firefox 3.5 plurality as per StatCounter, blue is the same but for IE, while red are countries with unusually high Opera usage (note that in the Russian Federation for example, Firefox 3.5 usage is actually slightly higher than Opera version 10.0, but it is remarkable to see the latter at >20%!)
The fact that browser distribution is not randomly distributed across European countries, but appears to closely follow traditional regional boundaries is somewhat surprising and suggests that there are significant cultural factors that affect browser choice. Note for example the large gap that StatCounter shows between Germany with ~60% Firefox and ~25% IE (so over 2:1) and its neighbors France with 55~60% IE and 30~35% Firefox and Denmark ~60% IE and ~25% Firefox (basically the opposite). One wonders how this will affect the IE ballot screen. My suspicion is that it will increase non-IE usage, but only proportionally to existing non-IE usage; in some nations where Firefox 3.5 is close to the most used version of IE (especially where those countries are near the ‘Firefox region’… possibly Italy or Sweden?), that could well push it past a tipping point, but west Europe looks like it’s going to hold onto IE the longest.
Another wrinkle is Chrome; Google’s browser is making some headway in Europe and a brief eyeballing of the data gives me the impression that it will do very well in the coming years… but probably more in certain regions than others; the Balkans seem to have relatively high Chrome usage already (Chrome as the alternative to a majority Firefox would be interesting to see!) and some west European nations might eventually see Chrome nipping at Firefox’s heels for second place, but that’s too far out into the future to accurately predict. I suspect that Safari won’t make too many inroads; I just don’t see it having massive appeal outside of Macs. Opera will continue to maintain a substantial user base in east Europe, but my gut feeling is that with more browser choices, they will get further lost in the shuffle as ‘yet another alternate browser’ where they don’t have a major presence already.
And that’s how things look to me at the end of 2009.