All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

08 Oct 11 Is Chrome Poised to Pass Firefox in 2011?

Google’s Chrome is poised to become the second-biggest Web browser in the world before the end of the year, according to StatCounter. If trends as measured by the Ireland-based Web statistics firm’s analytics tools hold up, Chrome will pass Mozilla’s Firefox sometime in December and trail only Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) in global average user share.

Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer looked at the trend lines in user growth for the three browsers as presented by StatCounter (graph below) and saw Chrome growing in popularity at about double the rate as projected over 12 months that Firefox and IE were each losing share since January of this year.

Firefox started 2010 with about 31 percent of user share and was sitting at 26.8 percent as of last Wednesday, according to StatCounter. Chrome, meanwhile, rocketed up from just over 15 percent user share in January to 23.6 percent in September. That puts the two browsers on a collision course to swap spots in the overall user share rankings when (or more precisely, if) Chrome climbs to about 25 percent of user share later this year and meets Firefox on its way down.

IE—owning 46 percent of user share in January and less than 42 percent as October begins—would be next in Google’s sights, though a Chrome takeover of the top spot wouldn’t happen until next August or so, extrapolating StatCounter’s numbers outwards. If Chrome and IE both maintain their exact current trends in user share growth, Chrome would meet IE at about the 35 percent user share mark in the late summer of 2012 before taking over the No. 1 browser spot.

Stat Counter Browser Share

Since StatCounter has the user share growth for Safari, Opera, and other browsers as essentially flat for 2011 (and combining for about 5 percent or less of the market besides), Chrome’s growth seems to have come almost entirely at the expense of Firefox and IE losing users.

Differences of Opinion
Of course, StatCounter isn’t the only research firm that’s monitoring global browser user share, as Keizer points out. NetApplication’s Net Market Share numbers also show Chrome trending up and IE and Firefox trending down, but NetApplication has IE currently owning a 55.3 percent of desktop browser user share, much higher than StatCounter’s figures.

Going by NetApplication’s numbers, Chrome would still pass Firefox, but not until the middle of 2012.

NetApplication does separate out mobile and tablet browsing in its analytics, but while that category is growing rapidly and handily led by Apple’s Safari, the use of browsers on mobile devices only represented 6.37 percent of overall browser use as of August 2011, according to the research firm. NetApplication also may factor in the Chinese market more than StatCounter does, further explaining the difference in their numbers.

Also interesting is NetApplication’s monitoring of the battle between Google, Microsoft, and Apple across browsers, operating systems, and search in the mobile and desktop categories.

Google is the most versatile of the three tech giants, owning significant browser share (15.7 percent of mobile with Android Browser and 15.5 percent of desktop with Chrome), OS share (16 percent of mobile with Android), and of course, search (92 percent of mobile, 83 percent of desktop).

Apple and Microsoft are almost mirror images across the mobile-desktop divide.

Apple has 53 percent of mobile browser share with Safari, 53 percent of mobile OS share with iOS, a small but steady share of desktop browser and OS users, and no search share in either mobile or desktop.

Microsoft’s mobile browser and OS user share is low enough that it’s not listed by NetApplication, and while its Bing search engine does have user share in mobile and desktop, it’s not a lot. But Microsoft still absolutely owns the desktop OS market with a 92.9 percent share for Windows and, as mentioned, IE still commands more than half of the desktop browser market, according to the research firm.

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