Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chrome Web browser enjoyed its biggest monthly market share boost ever and could pass Mozilla's Firefox browser in early 2012, according to new data from Net Applications.
The market researcher put Chrome at 17.6 percent through October, an impressive 1.4 percent gain from the fledgling browser's September share of 16.2 percent. The only other time Chrome grew more than 1 percent month-to-month by Net Applications calculations is when the browser grew more than 1.2 percent, from 14.3 percent to 15.5 percent.
Mozilla Firefox, meanwhile, rose from 22.48 percent in September to 22.51 percent last month. But Firefox's share is falling more often than it gains and Chrome today is within 5 percent of Firefox.
If Chrome continues on its current trajectory of averaging 1 percent market share growth per month and Firefox continues to slide, Chrome should catch or pass Firefox through February or March 2012. That surge will have happened in just three and a half years since Chrome launched in September 2008.
Chrome's rapid iteration cycle--it is on version 15--is largely responsible for the growth, though online and TV ads have helped spread the word.
Google CEO Larry Page said during Google's third quarter earnings call Oct. 13 that Chrome has more than 200 million users worldwide. "Turns out people really care about getting to the Web quickly and securely, and having a whole ecosystem of apps at their fingertips," Page said.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Internet Explorer was the biggest loser for the month, dropping from 54.4 percent in September to 52.6 percent in last month. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari browser jumped from 5 percent in September to 5.4 percent last month.
Safari grew even more on the mobile browser/tablet front, which Net Applications began counting separately last month after acknowledging the "combination of mobile and tablet usage has continued to rise dramatically." Safari share of mobile jumped from 55.6 percent in September to 62.2 percent in October.
Google's Android platform also grew, going from 16 percent two months ago to 18.7 percent, knocking Opera Mini from the No. 2 spot and sending that browser's share spiraling down from 18.9 percent to 13 percent for the period.
Indeed, Safari and Android together account for 80 percent of the market, a sign of just how much the mobile Web market has become a two-horse race between Apple's iOS-based iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and smartphones and tablets based on Android.