Safari 4 Looks Like It Might Have Legs

Apple claims that its new Safari 4 Web browser was downloaded 11 million times in its first three days of release, a sign that it could claim more market share against Internet Explorer, Chrome and others involved in the browser wars. Safari 4 boasts new features for end users and developers, including Cover Flow and Full History Search.

Apple says that its new Safari 4 Web browser was downloaded 11 million times in its first three days of release, suggesting that the application will have long-term legs within the context of the browser wars.

Safari 4 originally made its beta debut in February 2009, but the final version was released in conjunction with Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 8.

New features for the browser include Cover Flow, which lets users flip through "previews" of Websites, and Full History Search, which allows for a full search of Websites stored in the user's history. A "native look" of Safari for Windows, which includes Windows standard-font rendering and a native title bar, could be an attempt by Apple to take market share away from the PC browser market, which tends to utilize Internet Explorer.

For developers, Safari 4 includes tools for debugging JavaScript, inspecting offline databases, testing experimental pieces of code and examining page structure. Apple suggests that the Nitro engine in Safari 4 is capable of running JavaScript some four times faster than the previous version of Safari.

The 11 million downloads in its first 72 hours suggest that Safari might have legs, so to speak, with regard to its usage among both the enterprise and general users. Certainly there is room to grow with regard to the browser's market share. According to an April 2009 report by research company Forrester, Apple Safari held 1.4 percent of the enterprise browser market in December 2008, while Internet Explorer held 78.8 percent and Mozilla Firefox held 18.2 percent.

Not to be outdone, other companies have been refining their browsers. The latest version of Google Chrome underwent tinkering to make JavaScript-heavy Web pages load some 30 percent faster than previously, while still remaining stable. In a May 21 corporate blog posting, Google also suggested that it was incorporating new features such as AutoComplete, Google Toolbar and proxy settings adjustment into the browser.