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Lincoln Spector

Safari market share tops 7%, but tracking firm admits data is skewed

Lincoln Spector, The Industry Standard12.02.2008
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Apple's Safari browser hit a record 7.13% user penetration for November, according to a report by Net Applications and described on Market Share's Hits Link page. It's very impressive, considering the browser only debuted in 2003 and until recently was limited to computers running Apple's OS X operating system.

Is Safari so widespread? A post on MacRumors.com credits Safari for having "crested 7% of worldwide browser market share," but that's not actually what Net Applications measures.

The company tracks browser usage -- how many hits are coming from browser A vs. browser B. In November, several factors skewed the results toward Safari. Thanks to the presidential election (which kept people visiting news sites) and the Thanksgiving holiday, an unusually high percentage of overall browsing in November happened outside of the office. So it's no surprise that browsers with higher home usage, such as Safari, would do better. (Firefox also did better, gaining more than 20%, while Internet Explorer -- popular in corporate environments -- dropped below 70% for the first time.)

Net Applications tracks usage across its more than 40,000 client websites. Although these sites are located all over the world, they're skewed towards Europe and North America. That happens to be where Apple has a strong presence. Vince Vizzaccaro, the Net Application's Executive Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Alliances, acknowledged the problem and informed The Industry Standard that they will start weighting their statistics by country in January. "We need to better represent Asia and Africa," Vizzaccaro said.

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