Net Applications measures market share based upon Internet usage from some 160 million visitors to a network of hosted sites each month. According to the web metrics firm, OS X, iPhone OS and Safari are continuing to incrementally increase in market share after sharp declines earlier this year.
For May, OS X market share was 9.81 percent, up from 9.73 percent the previous month. While Net Applications counts the iPhone and iPod touch as distinct operating systems, the two combined are 0.75 percent, up from 0.70 percent. Safari’s market share, including the Windows version, is now 8.43 percent, up from 8.21 percent. If these changes seem inconsequential, the trends over time prove significant.
Since the beginning of the Intel Age, Mac market share has more than doubled, and is now approaching 10 percent. While there is concern over the effect of the recession on Apple sales, it’s more likely we are seeing a seasonal flattening. If the past is predictive of the future, by the end of the year the Mac will see double-digit market share for the first time since the early 90s. Unfortunately, Safari may lag behind.
While there are effectively two operating systems, there are now four web browsers competing for market share (sorry, Opera). At 8.43 percent in May, Safari has finally surpassed its previous high of 8.29 percent in January. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Chrome for Mac is imminent, and that it will likely take from Safari market share, as it’s doing with Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer now represents less than two-thirds of web browser market share. Five years ago it was over 90 percent. Unlike operating systems, web browsing is not a zero-sum game, which may be true for the iPhone OS in the future, but not today.
If you don’t think 0.75 percent of operating system market share means much, consider the competition: Android, 0.08; Symbian, 0.07; Windows Mobile, 0.05; RIM, 0.03; and Palm, 0.02 percent. All of them combined equal one-third of the iPhone OS market share. It remains to be seen whether the Palm Pre will live up to its hype, but there can be little doubt the next iteration of the iPhone OS will help Apple pass Linux on the desktop at 0.99 percent.