The Net browser wars have just taken an interesting turn: For the month of February, Google's Chrome was the only one to demonstrate a growth in market share. It was a tiny change, but a strangely interesting one. What's Chrome's secret?
The market percentages for browsers in February 2010, according to Net Applications analytics run as follows:
- Chrome: 5.61%, up 0.39% from January
- IE: 61.58%, down 0.54%
- Firefox: 24.23%, down 0.2%
- Safari: 4.45%, down 0.08%
- Opera: 2.35%, down 0.03%
Now, Net Applications statistics are created by analyzing some 160 million unique visitors per month, across about 40,000 target Web sites, and then some weighting and tweaking goes on to account for the active Net population count in the source countries. In other words, the percentages quoted here are not 100% precise, and you should remember this particularly when you're looking at some of the smaller market shares.
But the message is still clear. For February, all other big-names lost tiny chunks of the market, while Chrome was the only browser to improve its position. How did that happen? It's probably a result of several tweaks Google's made over the last couple of months—not the least of which is the Chrome for Mac beta edition at the end of 2009. We know that Apple's been building its marketshare in the PC space recently, so one would maybe expect that Safari's market share had risen...but perhaps Apple's users feel less bound to one browser than the typical PC user, and have been adopting Chrome like mad.
Or perhaps users have read about the great Internet Explorer debacle, and though not conscious of the business-monopoly issues behind the E.U.'s browser ballot decision, have become aware that there's a different solution available to them, and they've gone for the big name Google. It could also be the new browser "extensions" for both Mac and PC versions of Chrome that turn the little browser that could into a more heavy-hitting Web browser that competes with features that Firefox, IE and others have offered for ages.
The only thing Google should worry about is maintaining this momentum, and grabbing yet more market space. The E.U. browser ballot may help, but Google probably needs to engage in some serious PR promotions to get Chrome into the public consciousness—it's easy to see it being the browser of choice for the code-heads and boffins among the Net community at the moment.