NetApplications' measurements of browser usage share, which track which browsers individuals use based on visits to the company's network of Web sites, gave Chrome the third-place spot after No. 1 Internet Explorer and No. 2 Firefox for the week of December 6 through 12, according to a Computerworld story Tuesday. Chrome had 4.4 percent share to Safari's 4.37 percent.
Google released beta versions of Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux on December 8. Earlier, only developer channel versions had been available. Google plans to release the "stable" versions January 12, according to the Chromium development calendar.
Take these usage share numbers with a grain of salt. Even though 0.03 percentage points still is a lot of people in the real world, it is a small fraction, and a change in Net Applications' assumptions in August led to share changes two orders of magnitude more dramatic. Weekly statistics also vary: Although Firefox cleared 25 percent share in one week of November, it averaged only 24.72 percent for the overall month.
I've asked various browser makers about how trustworthy they view NetApplications' statistics to be. The answers generally are favorable but not ringing endorsements.
Regardless of the precise details, though, the Chrome trajectory is upward: its November usage share was 3.93 percent to Safari's 4.36 percent.
And although Google relied on word of mouth for promoting its original online search product, it's taking a more active role with Chrome. The latest example: a "Chrome for Christmas" site that lets people send invitations to download Chrome.
Firefox proved that a browser not bundled with an operating system can be successful, and Chrome could show the idea isn't a fluke if its growth continues.