In all the hubbub of the Nexus One premiere this week, another Google milestone has gone largely unnoticed. (Even I saw the headline earlier this week, but opted to cover a Nexus story instead.) While we’ve all anticipated Google coming out with a smartphone to end all smartphones (and start calling them “superphones” ), they’re beating Apple in another area: the browser wars.
According to one measure, Google’s Chrome browser is now the #3 most popular browser, behind IE and Firefox. And why is that so important? Because the guy they just beat out, #4, is Apple’s default browser, Safari. Metrics firm Net Applications reports that Chrome has cornered 4.63% of the browser market, enough to edge out Safari’s 4.46% of the market.
PCWorld points out that the 0.7 percentage point bump for Chrome in December may have been fueled by the release of the browser for Mac and Linux. Safari gained 0.1 percentage point in December, so it doesn’t appear that Google directly stole a lot of their marketshare.
IE continues to dominate, with 62.7% of the market, although it lost nearly a percentage point in December (continuing a six month trend of around 0.9 point losses). Firefox also lost ground in December, falling 0.1 point to 24.6%.
With such a narrow margin of victory, Chrome and Safari will probably continue to vie neck and neck for that third-place spot for some time. Chrome was officially released for Windows in December 2008—pretty quick to take over that spot in the first place. What do you want to bet Google would be happy to repeat that victory in other areas?
What do you think? Is this a turning point for Google and/or Chrome, or for Apple? Or is this just another battle in the Google-Apple war?