The Xero crew have a quandary right now. As the graph below shows, The percentage of their users utilising ie6 is fairly small. ie6 also has some inherent flaws in terms of security and current standards compatibility.
Because of all this Xero went out to the community asking people whether or not they should discontinue support for ie6. Firstly kudos to Craig for asking their user base the question and not making a unilateral decision.
As expected some of the comments were pretty vehement, bemoaning the backwardness of ie6 and encouraging Xero to cut it out of the equation. The best (and most relevant) comment however went thus;
Your stats are misleading – your current customers are early adopters: In the broader market for your products, you will have almost as many users on IE6 as IE7 (I know as I checked our stats last week).
You might want to wait on this one, unless you have a good reason to ceasing IE6 compatibility.
As the commenter pointed out, SaaS vendors considering browser compatibility need to look seriously at where their market is.
Xero for example is (or needs to be) a mass market product, the accounting system of choice across the spectrum of businesses. I’m not talking just designers and web companies here but Stuart the plumber and Ben the electrician. So in effect Xero needs to support the browsers used by all business users at an aggregate level. The graph below shows browser stats worldwide – of course it is an aggregate of consumer, SME and enterprise use but if we accept for a moment that these three users types share similar characteristics, the we can see that by closing off support for ie6, Xero would be cutting out over 25% of its potential market – bad move for a mass marketer.
A SaaS vendor who is targeting a specific niche, should look at the usage demographics for that particular niche. A SaaS product aimed to be used by web developers for example is unlikely to need ie6 support.
Horses for courses people – the best advice is to really really know and understand your market.