Chrome: Fastest on Macs, Favorite on Weekends?

Browser statistics are not unlike weather forecasts on TV: If you don't like what you hear, change the channel--or wait a day--and the story will likely change.

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Case in point: Hard on the heels of Net Applications' report earlier this week suggesting that Microsoft's Internet Explorer has finally reversed its recent downward market-share trend--and that Google's Chrome is now losing ground--rival StatCounter presents a very different picture.

In fact, continuing on Chrome's one-day reign as market-share leader one Sunday last month, StatCounter's data now suggests that Chrome is emerging as something of a weekend favorite, while Internet Explorer continues to dominate during the week--albeit less markedly than before.

'The Trend Is Undeniable'

"Whether Chrome can take the lead in the browser wars in the long term remains to be seen, however the trend towards Chrome usage at weekends is undeniable,” wrote StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen in a blog post last month, when the research firm first noted the trend. “At weekends, when people are free to choose what browser to use, many of them are selecting Chrome in preference to IE."

That trend now appears to be continuing. This past Sunday, for instance, Chrome held a 32.52 percent share of the worldwide browser market, while IE accounted for 32.48--before jumping up again to 35.03 percent on Monday.

Chrome's popularity spikes on weekends, StatCounter data suggests (Click image to enlarge.)
While Net Applications reports that Chrome's share has decreased from 18.94 percent in January to 18.57 percent in March, StatCounter's corresponding data shows an increase from 28.4 percent to 30.87 percent over the same period.

One key thing to keep in mind, of course, is that StatCounter doesn't weight its data on a country-by-country basis, the way Net Applications does. Another key difference is that Net Applications recently adjusted its data to account for Chrome's prerendering of pages--potentially accounting for the recent reported drop in Chrome's share--while StatCounter has not done the same.

Microsoft, not surprisingly, supports Net Applications' approach.

Loading Pages in Just 2.4 Seconds

Speed is another key aspect of the browser wars, of course, and on Thursday some new data emerged there as well.

Specifically, SaaS-based cloud application performance management provider Relic reported that Chrome 13 on Mac offered the fastest overall browsing experience in its recent tests--loading pages in just 2.4 seconds on average--while IE 9 surpassed Chrome on Windows platforms with a 3-second average speed, compared with Chrome's 3.5 seconds.

The global average for page load speed is 5.5 seconds, Relic added, representing only a slight improvement over the 6 seconds it reported last year.

Rapid Adoption

Google's Chrome 18, which debuted late last month, is designed to offer a speed boost, particularly in graphics-intensive applications.

After less than a week on the market, 33 percent of all Google Chrome users were already on version 18, according to research firm Chitika, which attributes that rapid adoption to Chrome's auto-updating process.

More than 80 percent of Chrome users are now on one of the two most recent versions of the browser, Chitika adds.

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