Mac News Review

Chrome or IE #1 Browser?, Will Kinect Leap Obsolete Mouse, Free Menubar Calendar, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.07.06

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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StatCounter: Chrome Overtakes Internet Explorer Globally for an Entire Month

PR: After weeks of speculation, Google's Chrome has unseated Microsoft Internet Explorer to become the world's top Internet browser for the first time for a full calendar month in May, according to StatCounter, an independent website analytics company. The firm's research arm StatCounter Global Stats says that Chrome surpassed IE for the first full day back in March and the achievement of the weekly milestone was widely reported on May 21.

For the full month of May according to StatCounter data from over 15 billion page views, Chrome took 32.43% of the worldwide market compared to 32.12% for IE and 25.55% for Firefox.

StatCounter Global Stats, Top 5 browsers June 2011 to June 2012

StatCounter says that a battle royal has broken out between Chrome, IE, and Firefox. While attention has recently been focused on the battle between Chrome and IE, not-for-profit Mozilla's Firefox with its loyal membership base should not be underestimated, comments Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. He points out that an upswing of over 0.6% in Firefox usage from April to May 2012 (apparently at the expense of IE) helped to push Chrome into pole position.

"The browser wars are back with a vengeance," says Cullen. "This time there are three major players competing for the top spot but, ultimately, the real winner will be the end user who can look forward to more choice and innovation as a result of this increased competition."

In a stunning display of growth, Chrome has gone from zero to market leader on a worldwide basis in less than four years. That said, while IE has ceded the top spot to Chrome for May 2012, Microsoft's newest browser version (IE 9) is performing well and Firefox is holding its own.

In the US, IE remains the dominant browser, as it also is in the UK.

StatCounter Global Stats has recently launched a new map feature that clearly illustrates the increasing global usage of Chrome. The increase is particularly evident when mapped data from May 2011 and May 2012 is compared both IE and Firefox cede a significant number of countries to Chrome over the period.

Net MarketShare: Firefox Second Place in World Browser Share Behind IE

Ars Technica's Peter Bright reports that based on Net MarketShare data, Internet Explorer still dominates worldwide at 49.46% combined browser share in June 2012, followed by Firefox at 18.35% and Chrome at 17.46%. Apple's Safari browser takes the #4 spot with 9.72%, and Opera rounds out the top five at 2.32%.

Worldwide combined browser market share, June 2012

On PCs (as opposed to tablets), the ordering is the same, but the numbers are different. IE has 54.0% share, Firefox 20.06%, Chrome 19.08%, Safari only 4.73%, and Opera just 1.60%.

Worldwide desktop browser market share, June 2012

Everything changes on mobile platforms, where Safari totally dominates at 65.79% - almost two-thirds of the market. This is followed by Android Browser at 19.17%, Opera Mini at 10.45%, and BlackBerry's browser at 1.63%. No other mobile browser has even 1% of the market, with IE at 0.67% and sixth place - quite the contrast to its desktop dominance.

Worldwide mobile market share, June 2012

Why StatCounter and Net MarketShare have such different numbers and conclusions is a mystery, with StatCounter giving Chrome the top spot, IE second, and Firefox third while Net MarketShare finds IE on top, Firefox in second place, and Chrome trailing at third.

The article also makes some interesting observations about the adoption rate for updated browser versions, where Chrome, with its transparent update system, has the vast majority of its users on the latest version in short order. By contrast, Firefox still has quite a few users on version 3.6, that last version before it launched its rapid update initiative, which still tends to be the #2 or #3 version of Firefox in use at any given time. Firefox users are also slower to update to a newer version than Chrome users.

Will Microsoft's Kinect Leap Obsolete the Mouse?

Like many other prognosticators, Fortune's J.P. Mangalindan contends that touchscreen gesture recognition will make the computer mouse obsolete, contending that after more than 40 years of mouse development, the arrival of smartphones followed by the iPad and other media tablets - all touchscreen enabled - has narrowed "the communication gap between man and machine (allowing, for example, very young children to became savvy computer users)."

Some, including your editor, beg to differ, at least in the context of quality of communication, and prefer the pinpoint precision and button-mediated positive control enabled by mouse, touchpad, or even trackball input to the vagueness and ambiguity of touchscreens.

Mangalindan cites scientist and entrepreneur John Underkoffler arguing that "Gesture is the richest possible digital input that we, as humans, can deliver," and that "spatial operating environments" are sensitive enough to pick up movements as slight as a quivering finger. Yes, and that would be part of the problem with them from some perspectives.

The article notes that the next generation of Microsoft's Kinect gesture-recognition hardware is due this winter, dubbed Leap, claimed to have 100 times the accuracy of the original Kinect product but to cost less than half as much (around $70) in a more compact form factor and compatible with Macs and PCs.

Mangalindan predicts that soon the mouse will no longer feel like a throwback but will simply be obsolete.

We'll see.

Study Finds Mac Users Buy More Long Term Care Insurance

An article in the Wall Street Journal reveals that users of Macintosh computers who visit travel site Orbitz spend an average of $30 more per night on hotels than their Windows PC counterparts. With higher per-capita income and different buying patterns, a new study indicates that Macintosh computer users also purchase bigger long-term care insurance policies, and more often.

A study of 184,000 visits to long-term care insurance shopping site LTC Tree found that one's choice of computing platform may reveal more than just hotel buying habits. Macintosh users are 14.1% more likely to buy long-term care coverage than Windows users, and they are likely to buy policies that are 9.3% more expensive, on average.

The immediate question is: Are Mac users more attuned to the risk of needing long-term care in the future, or are they just bigger consumers overall? A 9.3% increase in premiums would amount to an extra year of coverage on a typical long-term care policy, estimates Drew Nichols, cofounder of LTC Tree.

An avid technologist, Nichols wanted to include Linux users in the study despite the lower market share the operating system commands. The venerable Open Source operating system, which is freely available and adopted by higher-tech users generally, was analyzed in the study and added to the mysterious differences between users of various computing operating systems. The trait of thrift that leads to using a free open source operating system equates to an average long-term care premium that is 30% less on average than premiums of Mac users. Linux users were also found to purchase long-term care insurance at nearly half the rate of Mac users.

LTC Tree is an online long-term care insurance shopping site that allows consumers to shop a market of top-rated insurance carriers without the need to meet an agent face-to-face for a high-pressure sales meeting. With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, the awareness of need for long-term care protection is on the rise. What is not on the rise is the tired old sales approach that is often used to sell long-term care insurance policies at the kitchen table. LTC Trees approach focuses more on distance learning concepts and encourages comparison and competition of various insurers.


Day-O Free Menu Bar Clock for OS X

PR: Day-O is a simple, free menu bar clock replacement with a simple calendar for your Mac.

The developer explains how Day-O came to be:

Day-OMy late upgrade to Lion was relatively painless. The only casualty was MenuCalendarClock. It somehow clobbers the Dictionary shortcut key command and gesture which I use daily (if not hourly). I thought I could live without MMC. I don't use any calendar apps, so I was just using the free version for the simple date icon and convenient fly-out calendar. I thought the system menu clock would suffice. Really, how frequently did I use the fly-out calendar?

Turns out, quite a bit. I tried a few replacements but couldn't stand any of their date icons. MMC developer Objectpark seems to have gone quiet. Fortunately, as I quipped on Twitter, I've never met a wheel I didn't want to reinvent.

I was able to piece something together from various NSStatusItem tutorials, the NSDatePicker Class Reference, Stack Overflow answers and GitHub repositories.

MagiCal shows time & date in menubar.

Publisher's note: I'm not yet using OS X 10.7 Lion, so I can't speak to how well it might work there, but I've been using MagiCal on my OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6 Macs for years now. It's icon in the menu bar shows the current date, and it pops open a calendar quickly. The current version of this free app requires OS X 10.5 Leopard or later, but an earlier version for 10.4 Tiger is still available for download. dk

Link: Day-O

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