Blog Post

Chrome to Pass Safari in Browser Market Share

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

For October, OS X 10.6 and iPhone OS 3.0 continued to make incremental gains in market share, as did Safari. Unfortunately for the Apple (s aapl) web browser, Google’s (s goog) Chrome is gaining faster.


Compiling data from more than 160 million visitors to its worldwide network of sites, web metrics firm Net Applications has released numbers for the month. For web browsers, Internet Explorer still represents more than 60 percent of the market. That would be great for Microsoft (s msft), if it weren’t for the fact IE is down about 10 percent from a year ago and Firefox is up about 5 percent. Safari now stands at 4.4 percent, up from 4.24 percent in September, and 2.87 percent last year, and that’s great, but not as great as Chrome.


Based on WebKit and released just over a year ago for Windows, Google’s Chrome is now at 3.57 percent, up from 3.17 percent in September. Chrome’s rate of growth, plus the imminent release of a Mac version, as well as one for Linux, leads inexorably towards Chrome passing Safari, most likely by year’s end. The problem with Safari is that the Windows version just never caught on. After more than two years, its market share is yet to reach a third of 1 percent. To put that in perspective, more people browse the web with Safari from an iPhone than Windows.


As for iPhone OS, it continues to trend slowly upward. At 0.37 percent in October, and combined with 0.07 percent for the iPod touch, iPhone OS now measures 0.44 percent of total OS market share. While that may seem insignificant, it’s a little less than half what Net Applications reports Linux as having. Unlike Linux, the iPhone OS is steadily increasing share, and with the introduction of the iPhone in China and the U.S. holiday season, iPhone OS may break half a percent by the end of the year. To put that number in perspective, it’s about a 10th the market share of Mac OS X.


Nonetheless, Mac OS X continues to make small, steady gains in market share. OS X was at 5.26 percent for October, up from 5.12 percent in September — so much for Windows 7 hurting the Mac. Even better, a year ago OS X was at 3.79 percent, and a year before that at 3.43 percent. By October 2010, it’s quite possible OS X will have doubled its market share in three years. At 7 percent, that wouldn’t quite be the “rounding error” Steve Ballmer recently suggested OS X was when compared with Windows.

Regarding market share by version, after jumping to 18 percent in the month after release, Snow Leopard increased to just 21 percent of OS X users for October, with plain-old Leopard accounting for 50 percent of the user base. While that’s something of a plateau, it will be interesting to see how adoption between Snow Leopard and Windows 7 compares. A week after the official launch, Windows 7 is at 3 percent, up from 2 percent a week ago based on those using early release versions. Sounds like a rounding error to me.

21 Responses to “Chrome to Pass Safari in Browser Market Share”

  1. I don’t understand how they can equate actual marketshare with browser marketshare.

    And worse, I see no mention of excluding proxy servers that announce themselves as MS IE in the useragent string.

  2. Sid Farcus

    I tried the Mac version of Chrome and it’s missing a lot of functionality that Safari has, especially apparent in Chrome’s lack of support for contextual Services and lack of any Apple Event support. Two easy things to implement.

  3. KillBill

    The benchmarks are not exactly good, Sorry, but Google’s V8 benchmark suite does not provide as good a “real world” test as WebKit’s Sunspider benchmark suite—the reason you see “negligible real world” difference between the browser versions.
    I beg to differ on the speed difference in Wave… none that I can see with the current nightly and I’ll add WebKit nightlies are far more stable in Wave!

  4. Perhaps it would be better if people measured browser engine marketshare instead of browser brand marketshare. IE, Gecko, WebKit.

    Taking into consideration that Chrome is really a WebKit browser, I’d say that WebKit as a platform is doing really well!

  5. I have both Safari 4 and Chrome installed on my Windows machine. Overall, I much prefer Safari as it’s more of a full featured browser. I do like Chrome’s search bar that’s used for both URLs and searches. That’s both a great idea and a good use of space. However, overall, Safari 4 is more appealing to me.

    In my opinion, this has more to do with the Windows world either disliking or distrusting Apple in general and loving everything Google. Given the success of iTunes, one would think that just wouldn’t be an issue. Prior to Safari 4, Safari had a very distinct Mac look. Though one could argue the Mac look is better, on the Windows platform, it’s a fish out of water. I suppose the same goes for iTunes. But, Safari 4 looks like a native Windows app, so again, it doesn’t make sense.

    Either way, the overall trend is positive. IE continues to lose share and webkit based browsers continue to gain. Success for chrome is indirectly success for Safari through the common link to webkit.

    • You may have a point; I’ve met a number of real Apple-haters on the PC side (but, I’d say most are open-minded). Webkit is indeed a big winner– and it looks like it will dominate for mobile surfing, a rapidly growing segment. I’m thinking Flash and (MS) Silverlight have a dim future– CPU intensive ad-ware is bad news in a mobile, battery-powered world.

    • jinushaun

      All these anti-Flash people talk about HTML 5 like it’ll bring the end of obnoxious interactive ads. It won’t. The future will have CPU-intensive ad-ware made in HTML 5.

  6. I don’t care whether Safari or Chrome gains market share. They are both based on WebKit, i.e. practically identical from the perspective of a web-author. Therefore any growth for WebKit makes it more worthwhile for a website to support WebKit, rather than just Internet Explorer. And end-users, they get to choose which UI around WebKit is their favorite (Safari or Chrome).

  7. I just don’t get it why would somebody go for Chrome. If I want extensions (lots and lots of ’em), I go get Firefox. If I want lightweightness (yes, I know that’s not a word), perfect rendering and speed, I go get Safari. But Chrome has neither to a full extent (okay speed, okay rendering and a few extensions released just recently), plus it has Google’s evil eye spying on you all the time (unless you patch it, but that’s a different story). But then again, Safari on Mac is way better than Safari on Win (which is really good though, but it lacks OS integration and thus addon support, unlike Safari on Mac), so I’d prefer seeing a graph of browser market share on the Mac.

    • jinushaun

      Because the user experience of Chrome is far superior to Safari, especially for power users. As a web developer, it’s even better. You get to test WebKit without having to resort to a dumbed-down browser. Plus Chrome includes a lot of web dev tools built-in, so need for extensions anyway. I can’t wait for Chrome on OS X.

    • I tested Chrome a few months back and the menu and layout was WEAK. Just another vanilla flavored browser!

      I’ll stick with Safari and Firefox for now.
      I also use the simple but very fast Camino when I want faster loads.

    • Even if one were to include Safari on iPhone OS, it would do no more than delay the inevitable a little longer. There are just too many Windows users looking for alternatives to IE. Apple isn’t really interested in getting people to use Safari for Windows anyway, but rather getting them to use Safari for the Mac.

  8. I tried the mac version of chrome and I was impressed with its performance. But I was very unimpressed with its overall usability. Just some funky things going on that I guess I could just attribute to it being basically an alpha build. I may still use it occasionally but as of now I’ve got my favorite browser back in operation on mac os 10.6. Safari 4 beta! I loved tabs on top. It saves quite a bit of screen space and I have yet to find a browser that has such a small menubar that is still as usable as safari 4 beta. So I’ll probably stick with Safari until Apple gets off their pompous ass and releases Safari 4 with the option for tabs on top.