Apple Takes A Bite Out Of Microsoft's PC Market Share, Browser Use

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New data suggests something surprising: Microsoft's dominance of the computer game is still in place, but it's slipping. It's losing its browser lead, too. But who's munching MS's market share? It's Apple—with both Macs and iOS devices.

Netmarketshare, a company that describes its business as "global market statistics and news" in mapping "significant trends for internet usage" released a new report over the weekend that charts how different companies' products are accessing the web. It contained a statistic that will be well received at Apple's Cupertino HQ: Its iOS marketshare among computers just gained a "record" 0.37% in April—bringing the share of devices up to a new total of 2.24%. This statistic by definition calls iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches personal computers, on the same level as a Windows PC or even an Apple Mac, and that's controversial. But Apple critics can take note that Google's Android is classified the same way, and the statistic does mean that one in 50 devices around the world used to access the Net (how Netmarketshare acquires their data) is powered by iOS. Macs themselves reached a new high of 5.4% market share.

Of course for one company to make a percentage gain, another has to make a loss—and its Microsoft in this case. It's share of the market dropped to 88.91%—down from nearly 92% this time last year. You can argue that this is still a huge figure—and it is, undoubtedly, because Microsoft still dominates the computing world as it has for decades.

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But the trend is important here. Critics argue that Macs are a niche market, and at 5% market share that's understandable. Yet the Mac's share of the game is consistently growing, propelled by exposure in the media, the iPhone's "halo effect" and a number of paradigm-shifting products like the new hard drive-free MacBook Air. The iPhone and iPad are huge phenomena, and though you may consider the iPhone just a phone and not a portable computer, the iPad is definitely a tablet PC: Both these products have, according to Netmarketshare, been slowly growing their share. Adding these figures to the Mac's market share and you get an even more impressive trend that suggests Microsoft needs to act quickly if it's to keep its huge sales figures rolling in.

Meanwhile in the browser market, Microsoft's Internet Explorer has slipped to just 55.11% in share, with Safari gaining the most at MS's expense, and Google Chrome gaining a little, too. MS's IE9 was a slight success for the firm, with many Windows users adopting the new browser, but Apple's iOS explosion with the iPhone and iPad is propelling Safari upwards at a significant rate.

Nobody's saying MS could be the next Nokia, caught napping by Apple's advances, but it is a sign that it really needs to step up its game. Which may be why more and more Windows 8 data is leaking.

[Image via Flickr user raaphorst]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

Read More: Most Innovative Companies 2011: Apple and Microsoft

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