Mac Musings

Net Applications Cuts Mac Market Share by Half

Dan Knight - 2009.08.04 - Tip Jar

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Net Applications, one of the leading sources for online market share information for year, has changed the rules. And now it reports Mac market share at half the figure they used in May.

Rather than use the same methodology we have depended on for years, Net Applications decided to apply "country level weighting" to its data. That means that it no longer simply looks at real world data and reports it. Instead, the real data for each country is weighted based on its population of Internet users, based on CIA data.

They realize the impact this change has for Mac users, stating "Since Mac share in the US in significantly higher than the rest of the world, Mac and Safari share drop in the global reports."

Real Mac Growth

Thankfully, Net Applications has applied its new methodology retroactively to its previous data. They report Mac OS X online market share at 3.73% in Sept. 2008 and 4.86% in July 2009, an increase of 30%.

Windows, which had dropped below the 90% mark under the old system, is now well above that mark. The world's most popular operating system had 94.88% of the online world market in Sept. 2008 and 93.05% in July 2009, a decline of 2%.

Put another way, 5.12% of Internet users were not using Windows in Sept. 2008, and now 6.95% are using something other than Windows - a growth of over 35%.

Linux is reported as the #3 platform worldwide, and it has grown from 0.86% to 1.05% in the same time frame. That's 22% growth.

The iPhone OS, a version of OS X, is listed as the fourth most popular OS, and its share has grown from 0.15% in Sept. 2008 to 0.30% in July 2009 - doubling its size. (The iPod touch is reported separately, despite the fact that it runs the same OS as the iPhone. It has gone from 0.02% to 0.06%, which would put the entire iPhone OS at 0.17% and 0.36%.)

The remaining half percent or so is divided among Windows ME (behind the iPod touch), PlayStation, Android, BlackBerry, FreeBSD, and a number of others. Only Java ME and Symbian come between the iPhone and the iPod touch.

The Windows World

No matter how you weight it, Windows is losing market share. The most popular version, Windows XP, has slipped from 78.55% last Sept. to 72.93% today, a decline of 7%. Windows Vista has a lock on second place, growing from 12.77% in Sept. 2008 to 17.90% in July 2009 - a 40% improvement.

Next on the list is Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard", which has 3.42% of the market - over three times as much as OS X 10.4 "Tiger" (1.03%). The many Linux variants edge out Tiger with 1.05%, and Windows 2000 takes 6th place at 0.97%.

Windows 7, which is a preview at present, has already grown to 0.89% of the user base. Giving away a free preview has done wonders for its market share, but it remains to be seen how quickly it will grown once people have to pay for it.

Next come the iPhone and "other" versions of Mac OS X at 0.30% and 0.29% respectively. Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", which is only available to testers and developers, has 0.02% of the market. Expect that to grow dramatically this fall when it's released. It should quickly eclipse 10.5 thanks to aggressive upgrade pricing.

Safari Takes It on the Chin

With the new weighting, Internet Explorer is hands down the world's most popular browser with over 2/3 of the market, followed by Firefox at 22.47% and Safari at a bit over 4%. Google's Chrome is next at 2.59%, followed by Opera at 1.97%. Nothing else has over 1%.

Looking closer, we see IE sliding from 74.18% market share in Sept. 2008 to 67.68% in July 2009, a decrease of 8.7%. Put another way, the share of non-IE users has grown from 25.82% to 32.32%, a 25% increase.

Firefox, which runs on Windows and Macs and Linux, has seen its share grow from 19.07% to 22.47%, nearly 18% growth, while Safari, which is mostly used on Macs, has gone from 2.82% to 4.07% - a 44% increase. Safari is growing faster than the Mac OS!

Chrome, which shows great promise, is under development and remains an almost exclusively Windows browser at present. It has grown its share from 1.10% in Sept. to 2.59% in July. Once it's polished and available for Macs and Linux, expect it to give Firefox and Safari some serious competition.

Opera, perhaps the best browser that most people haven't tried, is on a slow decline. It had 2.01% share in Sept. 2008, grew that to 2.23% in January, and slipped to 1.97% in July. It's a shame, as most who have given Opera a real try end up really liking it. (If you're one of the many who haven't tried it or haven't tried it lately, head on over to and give version 9.64 a try - or the version 10 beta if you're feeling adventurous.)

Wrapping Up

Although Net Applications has changed the way it weights its real data, what it shows remains the same: Windows and IE are on the decline, Mac OS X and Firefox are making significant inroads, and Linux and Safari are growing. The numbers are different, but the trends remain the same.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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