The Friday Interview: Aodhan Cullen, StatCounter

28 Mar 2008

Young tech entrepreneur Aodhan Cullen talks about the growth of his global web analytics firm StatCounter and how the iPhone is faring as a web browser.

StatCounter’s big competition is Google. Is it difficult to compete against its’ free web analytics tools?

It certainly is a competitive market and when we started out there were lots of other free web analytics tools but they didn’t do a good job.

The difference between StatCounter and Google is that our service is in real-time and it is also a lot easier to understand. We have had new customers coming to us that have switched from Google to StatCounter because they found Google Analytics overly complicated.

You were only 16 when you started StatCounter. How has it grown in the past five years?

It has been amazing, it had grown in leaps and bounds. On average, we get 1,500 new members signing up for our services every single day. Last November, we added our 100th server in an outsourcing deal with IT provider The Planet.

Is outsourcing an inevitable step when any data-intensive firm is growing?

I don’t think outsourcing is necessarily inevitable when expanding your business but it is very important if you are trying to keep your cost down as you grow. Outsourcing is fine as long as it doesn’t in any way affect the quality of the service you provide to your customers.

StatCounter has been tracking the success of the iPhone since its release – how is it doing as a web browser?

Our statistics show the iPhone will most definitely increase usage of the mobile web because it is living up to its claims of being a user-friendly web browser, unlike other phones on the market.

The iPhone is the No 1 web browser in the US at the moment and it looks likely it will eventually surpass Nokia as the top browser in Europe too. The iPod touch, with its Wi-Fi connectivity, is also doing very well.

It is too early to say for Ireland because the iPhone was only just released a few weeks ago, but in the UK, the iPhone has already captured 0.06pc of the web browser market, while Nokia, who has been doing this for a while, has 0.15pc.

In your experience, is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) still the web browser of choice for most internet users worldwide?

In the US, IE is still leading but the gap is narrowing with 44.5pc of surfers using it, while 43.9pc are using the open source browser Firefox.

This is fairly similar to Ireland and UK figures, where Firefox is slowly stealing a march on IE’s dominance by taking 35.61pc of the market, while IE has 53.18pc.

The problem with IE is that it stagnated in development for so long and lacked many key features that Firefox had, such as tabbed browsing, but it is definitely fighting back recently with the release of IE7.

By Marie Boran