Google Chrome Passes Apple Safari in Browser Marathon

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-01-04

Google's Chrome Web browser ran past Apple's Safari Web browser in December 2009, buoyed by the launch of Chrome for Mac and Linux.

Market researcher Net Applications calculated that worldwide use of Chrome grew to 4.63 percent, up from 3.93 percent in November 2009, lapping Safari's 4.46 percent for the last month of the year. Safari grew, too, from 4.36 percent in November.

Many industry watchers speculated Google would see greater adoption of the open source, Webkit-based browser when Google's Chrome team released versions of the Web browser for Apple's Mac and Linux operating systems Dec. 8.

That proved prescient, and while Linux users are a passionate bunch, there were more Mac users looking to try Chrome on their machines. Even Google co-founder Sergey Brin was clamoring for a version of Chrome for the Mac.

Google Chrome Product Manager Brian Rakowski said upon launch that the stable version of Chrome for Mac is speedy and includes animations and effects "to create a snappy and satisfying browsing experience" for the Mac OS X operating system.

If the big uptake in Chrome last month is any indication, Mac users approve of Google's implementation of the browser for Apple's computers. This could prove to be an interesting battle in Google's growing war with Apple for Web real estate.

Also, the jump from 3.93 percent to 4.63 percent is the young browser's biggest growth spurt in the last several months, bested only by the bested only by the 1 percent market share pickup Chrome enjoyed in the first of its inception on Windows in September 2008.

Chrome didn't even reach the 3 percent milestone until September 2009, making the nearly 1.5 percent market share gain since that time even more remarkable. Google needs to sustain the momentum as it prepares to launch Chrome Operating System.

Launched to open source November 19, Chrome OS is expected to be the speedy application platform designed to underpin the Chrome browser. Chrome OS isn't expect to appear on netbooks from Asus, HP and other computer makers until November or December 2010.

However, for Chrome OS machines to sell well, it would behoove Google to get consumers using Chrome over Safari, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft's leading Internet Explorer before Chrome OS arrives en masse.

This would ensure a smoother transition for Chrome users who purchase netbooks based on Chrome OS.

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