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02 Mar 12 Chrome Prerendering Inflated Browser's Market Share

(NASDAQ:GOOG) Chrome market share may not be growing as fast as originally
thought as a researcher discovered the browser’s prerendering technology may
have been artificially inflating usage share.

market share through February was about 18.9 percent, down from 18.94 percent
in January and 19 1 percent in December, according to Net Applications.

However, the
reason isn’t because the popular browser is falling out of favor with users. The
reason, according to Net Applications, was that the researcher was counting
extra Chrome browsing share attributed to prerendering.

A predictive
search technology, prerendering loads a hidden Web page while the user is
typing search queries, which has the effect of loading the Web page faster when
the user clicks on the link corresponding to that page.

has inflated Chrome browser usage share by roughly 4.14 percent, Net Applications

discovering the effect prerendering had on Chrome share, Net Applications has
been counting prerendered pages as visible to the user at one point, even when
they had not been. This is not an accurate reflection of browser usage.

Chrome first
released prerendering functionality in Chrome 13 last year. Chrome 17, the last
stable release, leverages prerendering to accelerate results for search queries
typed into the Omnibox, which will lead to more prerendering traffic in the

prerendering can substantially misrepresent usage share numbers, it’s important
for analytics companies like ourselves to adjust for prerendering to provide
accurate data on usage share to our customers,” Net
Applications explained
in a note on its Website, which explains how
prerendering works.

Going forward,
for a prerendered page to count in usage share it must be visible to the user
at some point, the researcher noted.

Outside of
Chrome, Net Applications findings were pretty normal. Microsoft Internet Explorer saw a negligible share gain,
while Mozilla’s Firefox rose slightly. Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari browser
rose from 4.9 percent through January to 5.24 percent in February.

However, Net
Applications also now counts mobile browser share. Thanks to its iPhones and
iPads, Safari led the way with 61 percent share, up from 55 percent in January.

Android was
No. 2 with 18.6 percent share, up from 17.8 percent share. Opera’s Mini fell
the most, dropping to 14.4 percent share from nearly 20 percent share in January.

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