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The Stock browser in Android has not been actively supported, and Google Chrome is actively developed and uses modern technologies unlike it's predecessor. Yet, the stock browser still has 22.77% of the market share on mobile devices, which is more than Chrome for Android.

With it's inferior support for modern web technologies and unfairly large market share, the Stock browser is quickly becoming the modern IE6. But for some reason it is still often included as a default browser on new devices.

Are there any advantages this browser has, from the user or business perspective, that might be the reason why it hasn't been phased out altogether in favour of Chrome through the automatic update process, or at least no longer selected as a default browser? Is there any reason for keeping the mammoth alive?

  • 2
    "Android browser" has been replaced by Chrome on Nexus devices: only devices by certain manufacturers still include it. So your question, "Why doesn't Google phase it out" doesn't make sense: they already have. – Dan Hulme Jul 2 '14 at 8:29
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    @onik, I don't think it's opinion based. I'm not asking if it's right or wrong (though I might be biased towards wrong). I'm just asking for reasons or causes why this is happening. – Septagram Jul 2 '14 at 11:06
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    You could clarify the question, because out of the three questions you asked, I assumed the first one was the main point. "Why doesn't Google do x" -questions are opinion-based, unless there's an interview or a blog post from Google that has factual evidence. – onik Jul 2 '14 at 11:11
  • @onik, I have partially accepted suggested edit, and edited some more to clarify. – Septagram Jul 2 '14 at 11:41
  • I've reopened the question with the edits – onik Jul 2 '14 at 11:57
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Why is the Android stock browser still alive?

As of June 2014, 15.7% (0.8+14.9) of users still use Android 2.2 and 2.3.x (Froyo and Gingerbread), since Chrome supports only Android 4.0+, these users can't use Chrome for Android.

Also Android 4.0 (ICS), which has 12.3% of users, does not come with Chrome preinstalled.

Moreover, I think the stock browser still comes preinstalled in all Android Jellybean phones (Version 4.1.x , 4.2.x and 4.3.x), which is used by 58.4% (29.0+19.1+10.3) of users.

That means the stock browser is still preinstalled on 86.4% (15.7+12.3+58.4) of Android phones.

The above should be the reason why the stock browser is still being widely used. A lot of users don't bother downloading or changing the default/preinstalled browser.

There are no technological advantages of using Stock Browser over Chrome for Android.

Google has already phased out the stock browser in Android Kitkat (4.4).

Chrome for Android is licensed from Google, while the Stock browser is not. Also, OEMs can modify the Stock Browser if required but not Chrome. So from a business perspective, it is actually better for Google, if OEMs use Chrome. But some OEMs don't like being dependent on Google too much. To say more is beyond the scope of this answer. If you want more info go here and here.

Google has been slowly shifting the core of Android from AOSP to it's closed source and licensed Google Apps and the browser is one of the last components in this roadmap.

Update (Jan 2017):

As mentioned by Erwinus in the comments, Stock Browser was used for WebView in Android versions before Kitkat.

Stock browser share is now down to 7.26 %

  • I would have guessed that it had to do with Chrome its self not being directly open source. Probably similar the default email and calendar app. – Adam Patterson Jul 28 '15 at 5:30
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    22.77% of mobile users were using the stock browser at the time (June 2014), now it's down to 13.85% (July 2015). If such a high percentage of users were concerned about using only open source technologies then there would be more users for Firefox Android (0.66%) rather than Chrome for Android (32.09%) as of July 2015. – John S Perayil Jul 28 '15 at 11:23
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    Stock browser is used when using in a WebView in an app, am I right? – Codebeat Dec 25 '16 at 2:45
  • @Erwinus No, It's currently powered by Chrome - Reference – John S Perayil Jan 5 '17 at 7:36
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    @JohnSPerayil: Okay, but only when you target your app KITKAT or higher, otherwise it is the stock browser (sort of). The stock browser is awful piece of software, got already some experience with it. See also my question on stackoverflow: stackoverflow.com/questions/41403566/… – Codebeat Jan 5 '17 at 21:18
1

Posting this a separate answer from an unrelated edit to an existing answer.

Flash is the reason we continue to use the old, stock browser. The so-called stock browser is small & it supports Flash video, as do a couple of newer browsers. And the Flash .apk is still available from several reputable sites (but not from Google Play) so it's easy to get hooked up.

Until all video streaming sites migrate to HTML5 there will continue to be a demand for browsers that support Flash, security issues or not.

-2

Stock browser let's you save HTML for offline reading without hassle = win

protected by Community Jul 19 '15 at 16:31

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