Chrome Passes Safari in Market Share

As predicted, Chrome has eclipsed Safari in web browser market share. According to web analytics firm Net Applications, Chrome’s share is now 4.4 percent, just edging out Safari at 4.37 percent.

For Apple and Safari users, there is both good and bad news here. The good news is that Chrome is WebKit-based like Safari, and more WebKit-based browsing ultimately means greater compatibility for all. The bad news comes in the form of a question: Whatever happened to Safari for Windows?

Via Computerworld, Net Applications VP Vince Vizzaccaro asserts the recent beta release of Chrome for OS X and Linux was responsible for the surge in Chrome usage. At the end of November, Chrome was at 3.93 percent of total browser share, with the OS X version at just 0.32 percent. Two weeks later Chrome for OS X jumped a full percentage point, the increase coming “fairly equally” from Safari and Firefox, according to Vizzaccaro.

Chrome saw an even bigger jump with Linux, from 3.81 percent to 6.84 percent. According to Vizzaccaro, “Linux will be the more intriguing arena to watch.” That may be true, but Net Applications currently counts Linux as just 1 percent of OS market share. Even if Chrome takes half the browser share on Linux, it won’t do much to increase the usage of WebKit-based browsers. That will happen on Windows, if it happens at all, but the sad thing is it could have happened with Safari.

At the launch of Safari for Windows at WWDC ’07, Steve Jobs commented that “hundreds of millions of Windows users already use iTunes, and we look forward to turning them onto Safari’s superior browsing experience, too.” It never happened. Security and performance issues blunted the initial surge of downloads, but more importantly, Apple has never devoted the resources to making Safari for Windows as good as Safari for Mac. Safari for Windows has never been close to the experience on the Mac, and its market share has never been more than a third of a percent.

Today, Chrome feels like what Safari could have been for Windows, a “fast and intuitive web browsing” experience as Jobs said at WWDC ’07. That was then, and Chrome is now — better to kill Safari for Windows and use those resources elsewhere.