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Summary:

Google Chrome is now used more than the Apple Safari browser in the U.S. for the first time on record with an 8.97 percent share, according to StatCounter. But both browsers are built on WebKit, which is becoming more important on desktops and the mobile web.

Google Chrome, for the first time ever, is now used more than the Apple Safari browser in the U.S., with an 8.97 percent share of the market, according to web analytics tracking firm StatCounter. Safari, which is used by 8.88 percent of the U.S. for browsing, joins Chrome in lagging behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox, which claim a 52 percent and 28.5 percent share, respectively. Even though Chrome and Safari lag the incumbents, both are built on the WebKit rendering engine.

It’s almost ironic that Chrome has surpassed Safari since Apple itself open-sourced WebKit in 2005 and has used it exclusively in Safari for Mac OS X and for the iOS4 operating system. Yet in under two years — the first Chrome beta launched in September of 2008 — Google has built its successful Chrome browser upon Apple’s WebKit efforts and is even leveraging it for the Chrome OSdue out later this year. Globally, Chrome took even less time to surpass Safari — it holds 9.4 percent of the worldwide browser market vs. Safari’s 4 percent, says StatCounter.

WebKit-based browsers continues to gain importance, not just on the desktop, but in the mobile space as well. Nokia currently uses WebKit for the Symbian S60 browser as does Palm for the webOS browser. And when Research In Motion purchased Torch Mobile last August, it essentially acquired that company’s WebKit browser, which is expected to be part of the upcoming BlackBerry 6 OS.

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  1. I’m curious to see how many of the Chrome users on Mac after the release of Safari 5 with its speed improvement and its extensions.

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  2. I meant to say – how many Mac users switched back to Safari from Chrome. :-)

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    1. StatCounter tracks the numbers on a weekly basis, so you can actually follow for the impact. Note that even after Safari 5 was released, Chrome eked out greater share. That could change after we see more Safari extensions, but I think Chrome will continue to grow its lead over Safari.

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    2. Well, many people are reporting this first release of Safari 5 is pretty buggy and actually seems slower than Safari 4 in many cases. I know a decent number of people who want to use Safari 5, but are using Chrome until the Safari 5 issues get remedied.

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  3. Apple’s WebKit is based on a GPLed piece of code called KHTML. Apple didn’t open source WebKit out of the kindness of their hearts , they open sourced it because they were legally bound to.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KHTML

    Apple deserves no altruism points here.

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  4. Not surprised by this. Chrome is simply better suited for the demands of web browsing and digital interaction as it exists today. Fast, simple, and precise. I think Firefox is still in a good position but they need to concentrate on the core rather than extra non-sense which has contributed to a bit of browser-bloat. I have about 5 Chrome extensions running with no sign of lag. Admittedly I haven’t used Safari 5 to any great extent but this article provided a nice reminder to do so. Overall Chrome is a product that I strongly suspect will continue to gain market share..

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  5. awesome! love this article

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  6. ChromeOS will give a boost to Chrome, but I’m very skeptical about Chrome’s ability to take a huge chunk of Windows and Mac market share. Chrome brought a lot of nice ideas to the table, but I haven’t seen anything inventive come out of Chrome in a long time. It still remains the least-customizable browser and the extension system is horribly limited.

    Safari 5 is a nice upgrade, but overall underwhelming. The Reader is a nice feature for using on cluttered websites, and the new HTML5 and CSS3 features will be fun to play around with. The new extension system is long overdue.

    Firefox 4 will be an enormous upgrade. I use the nightly builds and it’s already dramatically improved from 3.6. Firefox is by far the most feature-rich and customizable browser out there, but Mozilla’s main obstacle will be educating its users. You wouldn’t believe how many Firefox users don’t even know what add-ons are.

    Over the next few years, I think Firefox and Opera are the browsers to watch. It may sound strange to mention Opera, but they have been making huge improvements lately and Opera 10.60 is a very nice browser. I think people who use Opera Mini or Opera Mobile on their phones will get curious and discover the desktop version is actually very good.

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  7. I just wanted to reiterate Josh’s point about WebKit’s origins being before Apple’s usage; it started life as an Open Source project.

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  8. Is this data trustworty? I have no doubt that Chrome share is on the rise, but the same website shows Google as having 90%+ of the search marketshare. That is definitely NOT accurate.

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    1. Great question. The data is better viewed as a focused proxy than an exact measurement based on the method used: http://gs.statcounter.com/faq#methodology

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  9. [...] Firefox is still continuing to grow. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Only today news emerged that Google’s Chrome was now the third most popular browser in the U.S. Mozilla has also come [...]

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  10. I remember that a few months back Chrome was the third most used browser. i think from netmarketshare. Was it across the world? or is there a difference between statcounter’s method and netmarketshare?

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    1. That’s likely a worldwide number. According to StatCounter, Chrome surpassed Safari worldwide to become the number three browser in September of 2009.

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