Chrome Overtakes Safari In Browser Race

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The real contenders are still Internet Explorer and Firefox, but beating Apple’s browser should please Google as it unleashes its Nexus One against the iPhone

Google’s Chrome web browser has overtaken Apple’s Safari to claim its place as third most popular web browser, according to data from web metrics company Net Applications. Chrome increased its market share by 0.7 percent in a month, climbing from 3.93 percent in November to 4.63 percent in December.

Despite dropping to fourth place, Safari’s market share also increased during the month, rising from 4.36 percent to 4.46 percent. These increases came at the expense of market leader Internet Explorer, which fell from 63.62 percent in November to 62.69 percent in December, and Mozilla Firefox, which decreased from 24.72 to 24.61 percent.

Forrester analyst Sheri McLeish told V3 that is was not surprising to see Chrome overtake Safari. “Chrome is still in its early days and we have seen Google ink a deal with Sony to have Chrome installed on its laptops, so more traditional channels to get browsers on people’s computers will also spur its adoption,” she said.

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Until recently Chrome has only been available as a download for Windows-based PCs, but in December 2009, Google released its beta versions of the Chrome browser for Mac and Linux. In a Google Blog post on 8 December, Google Chrome product manager Brian Rakowski said that Chrome for Mac is speedy and includes animations and effects “to create a snappy and satisfying browsing experience”.

Several commentators have criticised Google for taking so long to bring out Mac and Linux versions of the browser. However, Google Chrome Engineer Mike Pinkerton defended the company’s delay, claiming that he and his team had to build and rebuild Chrome for Mac OS X from the bottom up, from the WebKit-based browser infrastructure all the way up to the user interface.

Another possible reason for Google overtaking Apple in the browser league is the company’s extensive advertising campaign for the browser, which has included use of major billboard sites across Britain. Online searches for “Google Chrome”, “Chrome” and “Google Browser” almost doubled in mid-December when the campaign was at its height, according to the Telegraph.

In other news, Google is expected to launch its own brand One Nexus mobile handset today, following months of speculation and build-up. Once again Google is in competition with Apple, with the phone being billed by some as an iPhone killer, but other observers say Google’s Nexus One phone can’t compete.


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