Chrome Web browser inches past Safari's market share

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from the Biz Feed blog at PCWorld.com.

In the most recent Web browser market share statistics from Net Applications, Google’s Chrome Web browser sneaked past Apple’s Safari to claim third place. The ascent up the market share ladder is more impressive when you consider that Chrome has only been around a little over a year.

Chrome’s 0.7 percent jump from November to December can probably be attributed to the beta versions of the Chrome Web browser for Mac OS X and Linux finally being released. Google also gave Windows users more reason to switch to Chrome with the release of expanded features and functionality for the Windows version of Chrome.

Chrome was marching pretty steadily up the chart even before the recent releases, though. Since January of 2009, Internet Explorer’s share of the pie has dropped just over seven percent. That seven percent has been snapped up primarily by Firefox and Chrome, with Chrome making the biggest jump of them all. Chrome has increased over three percent since January, more than tripling its share of the Web browser market in under a year.

Google is virtually synonymous with Web surfing, so it stands to reason that Google should know a thing or two about how to optimize the Web surfing experience. The Chrome Web browser is not a revolutionary shift from other browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox, but the incremental improvements are enough to make it worth taking a look at.

The one thing Chrome offers that all users want is speed. Time after time since its release Chrome has come out on top in tests that compare the speed at which the different Web browsers are able to load pages. The difference in time may be mere milliseconds, but for hardcore Web surfers those milliseconds add up, and faster page loading equates to less frustration and stress.

As with all statistics, these can be taken with a grain of salt. Finnish tech site Afterdawn.com claims that recent statistics for users that visit its sites put Firefox on top with just over 42 percent, Internet Explorer in second place just under 40 percent, and Chrome strongly in third with almost nine percent. That is a more tech-oriented site with a much smaller sampling, though, than the statistics compiled by Net Applications.

What does all of this mean to you? Well, nothing really. At nearly 63 percent of the browser market, Internet Explorer still holds a dominant position even though it has lost a significant chunk in 2009. The real battle is still between Internet Explorer and Firefox—a distant second with less than half of Internet Explorer's stake...at least for now.

The success of Windows 7, which comes with Internet Explorer 8 pre-installed as the default browser (except within the European Union where Microsoft is providing users with a choice of browsers as part of a settlement to avoid antitrust litigation) may help curb Microsoft’s eroding share of the browser market.

As I mentioned above, though, Chrome is a rapidly rising competitor. Google’s reputation and presence on the Web will contribute to the continued growth of the Chrome Web browser, as will Google’s various endeavors, including the Chrome operating system expected to be released before the 2010 holiday shopping season.

Firefox has been climbing as well, and has five times the share of the Chrome Web browser, but Firefox has also been around for more than five years. Odds are fair that Chrome will pass Firefox and steal second place long before either of them threaten to pass Internet Explorer.

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