Chrome passes Safari to become third most popular browser

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Chrome passes Safari to become third most popular browser

Internet Explorer continues to lose market share.

Google's Chrome browser continued its impressive growth in popularity by leapfrogging Safari into third place last month.

Figures released yesterday by web metrics company Net Applications showed that Chrome increased 0.7 of a percentage point from 3.93 percent to 4.63 to finish 2009 ahead of Safari, which ended on 4.46 percent.

However, despite dropping to fourth, the figures still represented growth for Safari, up from 4.36 percent in November.

Firefox fell slightly, from 24.72 to 24.61, but remains securely in second place behind Internet Explorer (IE), while Opera, in fifth position, grew from 2.31 to 2.4 percent, its highest ever share.

Sheri McLeish, an analyst with Forrester, suggested that it was not that surprising to see Chrome overtake Safari as there are a lot more PCs than Macs on the market, but that the Google browser is likely to continue its growth over 2010.

"Chrome is still in its early days and we have seen Google ink a deal with Sony to have Chrome installed on its laptops, so more traditional channels to get browsers on people's computers will also spur its adoption," she said.

While IE remains by far the most popular browser, it lost further market share in December, falling from 63.62 percent in November to 62.69 percent. Despite the launch of IE8 in March, the browser declined seven percent over the year.

McLeish said that Microsoft will be hard-pressed to stop further losses in market share in 2010 as awareness of other browsers grows following the recent EU browser ruling forcing Microsoft to offer users of Windows alternative choices.

"In the past the biggest challenge for alternative browsers was awareness but, with the menu choice in the EU coming and the critical mass Firefox has achieved, this no long appears to be as big a barrier," she added.

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