Chrome Takes Over 3rd In Browser Market Share

Only 16 months after its debut, Chrome has overtaken Safari as the third-most-popular web browser, according to the latest numbers released by web metrics firm Net Applications. Chrome ended the month of December 2009 with a share of 4.63 percent, while Apple's Safari dropped into fourth place with a share of 4.46 percent.

Meanwhile, Internet Explorer lost almost a full percentage point in December, the latest slip in its continuing market share decline. With more browser alternatives, IE's slide accelerated in 2H09.

Chrome's December increase of 0.7 of a percentage point is the largest since Google launched the browser at the beginning of September 2008. There are three possible reasons for the jump: beta editions for both Mac and Linux, as well as the release of extensions for Chrome.

Extensions have proven a reason for this writer to make the move to Chrome. Many forum posters  had previously indicated they were using Firefox, and were just waiting for extension support on Chrome, as well as extensions that matched the functionality they wanted, to be released.  Truthfully, the list of extensions is still small compared to Firefox, and developers have been pretty clear that they can't do everything they can do with the Mozilla browser, but they are still punching out extensions that fill the gaps as best they can.

Meanwhile, although it fell to No. 4, Safari still gained 0.1 of a percentage point. Opera also gained ground in December; in fifth place it accounts for 2.4 percent of all browsers used in the month, which is a record for the program. However, Mozilla's Firefox lost 0.1 of a percentage point (crash much?), staying in second but dropping to 24.6 percent. Still, Mozilla is in striking distance of the 25 percent milestone.

Finally, while still holding the No. 1 spot, Internet Explorer dropped to a new low. The browser now holds 62.7 percent of the market, troubling for Microsoft as the software once held more than 90 percent of browser market share.