Chrome to Pass Safari in Browser Market Share

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 web browser, Google’s Chrome is gaining faster.

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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, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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