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(updated 15. Jul 2006, numbers up to April 2006)

The Problem revisited

Elsewhere I have already underlined, that several issues make Mac OS related browser statistics nearly worthless — but after the Mac IE is no longer the default browser in OS X 10.3, this issue may become quickly less uncertainty inducing, because most others indicate the Mac OS kind. After thorough analysis I discovered, that I can give at least meaningful intervals for the interesting numbers, despite I can't give you exact numbers like I do for GNU/Linux and Solaris. Finally the Mac browser iCab (available for both major versions) and Opera didn't manage so far to cross the one per cent threshold in share, so I have omitted them here.

Mac OS change tendency

OS X statistics
Mac OS classic statistics
all Mac OSs combined

The Obstacles

These are twofold: the shitty (former?) monopoly browser M§IE, the Mac only browser iCab (in most cases) and the Mac versions of Opera doesn't announce even the major Mac OS flavor, where they are (currently) running on. So I can attribute them only to both major Mac OS versions combined or make a speculative minimum/maximum statistic, where all are contributed to the old, classic Mac OS, or to the new UNIX based Mac OS X only. This can give huge error margins of course…

The other problem is, that Safari, Camino=Chimera, Mozilla Firebird and OmniWeb are Mac OS X browsers only, so I can't compare all browsers on an equal base.

Speculative Statistics

While the approach above can be considered as range estimate without any speculation, the following assumptions seem to be true, but I am not 100% sure. If you discover a fault within, please correct me (email address at page bottom).

  • all M§IE with major versions 4 and older run only on the classic Mac OS (nearly for sure)

  • the M§IE versions 5.0 run too only on classic Mac OS — therein I am not 100% sure…

  • the M§IE versions 5.1 run on both classic Mac OS and Mac OS X

  • the M§IE versions 5.2 run only on Mac OS X — this I know for sure now

Because M§IE is the only major (i.e. rather often) used browser on Mac OS X, which doesn't announce, what we want to know, this is the major, nearly the only uncertainty in those numbers below. Remark for the interested: here is the script used for generating the statistics below.

Major Mac OS Kind Tendency

With all these remarks above here is first the OS share development since May 2001. Keep in mind, that Mac OS X 10.0 was released in March 2001, just two months before my statistics are starting, so there should be a heavy increase in share of the newer Mac OS X. The version 10.1 stepped in in autumn 2001, 10.2 in late summer 2002 (which can run Safari opposed to the older versions) and 10.3 in autumn 2003 (which has Safari as default browser). The estimated shares of both on the Mac (GNU/Linux on PowerPC for Mac is omitted as NetBSD: too seldom met!) used major operating systems are:

time interval\Mac OS flavorUNIX based Mac OS X since 10.0classic Mac OS <= 9.22
200105–2001100.3–2 (151–952)98–100 (37677–38478)
200111–2002041–15 (490–6896)85–99 (39925–46331)
200205–20021011–35 (5458–17052)65–89 (31656–43250)
200211–20030433–55 (19853–32845)45–67 (27343–40335)
200305–20031045–64 (24094–34415)36–55 (19266–29587)
200311–20040464–77 (29508–35676)23–36 (10362–16530)
200405–20041075–86 (50118–57771)14–25 (9258–16911)
200411–20050482–90 (51633–56759)10–18 (6203–11329)
200505–20051088–94 (71397–76011)6–12 (4861–9475)
200511–20060493–97 (65850–68816)3–7 (2302–5268)

Current remark: with the completed half year statistics since November 2003 Mac OS X has now finally inherited the majority definitely from its predecessor, while the year before the situation was uncertain in this regard, though showing the shift clearly.

Keeping in mind, that OS X runs only on (nearly) current hardware due to its resource consumption and somewhat limited hardware compatibility, this strong increase is a major success for Apple and requires all third party software (including browser) vendors to support it. This is meanwhile virtually finished with Quark Xpress available for OS X too and several browsers now supporting only OS X, but not (anymore) the classic one.

Browser Statistics for Mac OS X only

As mentioned, here three browsers exist, which run on no other OS (flavor). The first of those was OmniWeb, which has its roots in the OS X precursor NextSTEP and was therefore available as the very first browser for it, even earlier than the before Mac OS X 10.3 official Apple system browser M§IE 5.1 to 5.2. Camino (Chimera) is a Gecko derivative (i.e. a relative of Mozilla and new Netscape), fully adapted and integrated into Aqua with Cocoa; it was published in early 2002. The Mozilla Firebird (formerly Phoenix) browser was never ported to the classic Mac OS, but is since a short time available for Mac OS X too. On 7./8. January 2003 Apples own browser Safari appeared as public beta, using KHTML and also fully Aqua/Cocoa integrated of course. The last one runs only on OS X.2 and higher and became after being a stable the default browser on OS X.3… Mozilla Firebird became late an official build for Mac OS X too and shows meanwhile up notably too.

Hint: the first time period appeared to me as useless for giving percentages, therefore only the hits in braces are listed.

time interval\browser typeM§IESafariCamino (Chimera)Firefox/-bird (Phoenix)MozillaNetscape 6–7OmniWeb
200111–2002040–88 (0–6051)---1–11 (56)3–40 (198)4–48 (236)
200205–20021065–86 (3556–14772)-0 (21)-4–13 (718)3–10 (532)4–11 (614)
200211–20030455–71 (10876–23397)17–28 (5548)5–8 (1562)0 (8)2–4 (752)2–3 (566)1–2 (425)
200305–20031047–62 (11328–21400)31–45 (10785)2–3 (683)0 (40)1–1.5 (352)2–3 (729)0 (73)
200311–20040433–44 (9621–15665)48–58 (17159)1.5 (516)1–1.5 (466)1 (410)3 (1026)below limit (134)
200405–20041025–34 (12491–19948)57–66 (33014)1 (615)2.5–3 (1454)1.5 (815)2.5 (1309)below limit
200411–20050421–27 (10652–15585)58–64 (33084)1–1.5 (758)8–8.5 (4542)1 (533)3–3.5 (1736)below limit
200505–20051014–19 (9967–14188)67–72 (51250)1–1.5 (896)9 (6711)<1 (576)2 (1413)below limit
200511–2006049–13 (6137–8679)70–73 (48399)1.5 (1054)12 (7914)<1 (470)2 (1407)below limit

Very interesting tendencies… Only recently the heavy uncertainty of M§IE begins to come down due to the increased traffic by OS X announcing browsers and the fact, that version 5.2 is available only for OS X (see above, so it can be assigned correctly to OS X). And due to the new Safari browser by Apple its monopoly is eroding away rather quickly now: keep in mind, that Safari wasn't available for more than two months of the time period 200211 to 200304! The Gecko derivative Camino (Chimera) had become very popular for a while, and it had overtaken (and weakened, I guess) Mozilla and the new Netscape even combined; but recently it supposedly payed a high toll to Apples Safari browser. Finally OmniWeb couldn't get the most out of its head start, probably the rather slow and no recent w3c standards supporting, dated rendering engine up to 4.21 is the reason for it, not only the strongly risen number of noticeable competitors. And if the engine of Safari and JavaScript component of Mozilla used since version 4.5 can bring it back remains unclear.

Browser Statistics for classic Mac OS only

Here only the dated Netscape <=4.8 can be additionally to the Mac OS flavor announcing browsers flawlessly assigned to the dying classic Mac OS <= 9.22, simply because it was never ported to the new UNIX based Mac OS X and therefore cannot run on it.

time period\browserM§IEall Netscape brandedold Netscape <= 4.8new Netscape >= 6(original) Mozilla (suite)iCab
200105–20011063 (23711–24273)36–37 (13502)35–36 (13502)1 (402)below limit!below limit
200111–20020465–69 (25821–31872)30–35 (13967)28–32 (13011)2 (956)below limit!below limit
200205–20021069–76 (21763–32979)22–30 (9655)20–27 (8563)3 (1092)<1 (238)below limit
200211–20030469–78 (18864–31385)21–30 (8332)17–25 (6734)4–6 (1598)below limit!below limit
200305–20031068–78 (13163–23235)20–31 (6001)16–25 (4814)4–6 (1187)0.5 (120)below limit
200311–20040473–82 (7545–13589)16–26 (2682)11–17 (1799)5–8 (883)1 (135)below limit
200405–20041073–84 (6722–14179)14–25 (2318)7–13 (1179)7–12 (1139)1–2 (218)0.5–1 (82)
200411–20050474–84 (4596–9529)12–22 (1402)6–11 (694)6–11 (708)2–3 (205)1 (80)
200505–20051069–80 (3331–7552)13–26 (1245)6–12 (568)7–14 (677)3–5 (285)1 (69)
200511–20060466–77 (658–770)12–26 (612)6–13 (312)6–13 (300)3–7 (173)1 (35)

Indeed Mozilla, iCab and Opera all didn't manage to cross the threshold set here to be displayed in this table — at least not until midth of 2004, when iCab reached the required percentage for the first time. Therefore we have virtually completely the old situation of a two browser alternative, which is dominated recently even stronger by the Redmond mob. Furthermore, with Mozilla 1.3 beginning there will be no official builds for Mac OS classic any more (what doesn't exclude third party builds like all of them are besides the three remaining Windoze, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X official builds). And the new Netscape struggles to get enough hits for gaining at least as much as its predecessor loses. With decreasing share (see on top) of the old Mac OS the importance and interest of this statistic will go down too of course. And only lately Mozilla shows up too in this statistics, only marginally crossing the 1 percent limit.

Finally most browser vendors have ceased support of their models already some time ago, so the final (officially build) versions of some browsers for Mac OS <=9.22 are/will be: M§IE 5.16, Netscape 4.8 respective 7.02, and Mozilla 1.2.1. Whether Opera 7 (7.2 and higher) will be offered for the old, dying Mac OS flavor isn't clear at all (Mac OS X will get a version 7.5, that is for sure), at now the Carbon version 6.03 is offered for both; only iCab 2.9.8 is currently offered not only for Mac OS X, but also for it's predecessor OS, so iCab 3 (the first release) can be expected to be the last current (maintained) official browser build for the classic Mac OS.

Browser Statistics for all Mac OSs combined

This is heterogenous as explained above: while M§IE is (was) the Apple declared and OEM monopoly browser on the more recent classic Mac OSs and on Mac OS X from 10.0 to 10.2, it is terminated with appearance of 10.3, replaced by Apples Safari. Netscape is much more popular, not only due to the availability of the older version on Mac OS classic, than on OS X, but also Mozilla is much more popular on OS X than vice versa; finally Safari and Camino are running only on OS X and only by their big popularity thereon they are strong enough to show up in these combined statistics:

time period\browser Safari M§IE Mozilla and Firefox/-bird all Netscape branded Camino (Chimera)
200105–200110 - 63 (24273) 0 (62) 36 (13904) -
200111–200204 - 68 (31872) 0 (193) 30 (14165) 0
200205–200210 - 75 (36535) 2 (956) 21 (10187) 0 (21)
200211–200304 9 (5548) 70 (42261) 1.5 (899) 15 (8898) 2.5 (1562)
200305–200310 20 (10785) 64 (34563) 1 (512) 13 (6730) 1 (683)
200311–200404 37 (17159) 50 (23210) 2 (1011) 8 (3708) 1 (516)
200405–200410 49 (33014) 40 (26670) 4 (2487) 5 (3627) 1 (615)
200411–200504 52.5 (33084) 32 (20181) 8 (5280) 5 (3138) 1–1.5 (758)
200505–200510 63 (51250) 22 (17519) 9 (7572) 3 (2658) 1 (896)
200511–200604 68 (48399) 14 (10196) 12 (8557) 3 (2019) 1.5 (1054)

It is easily seen, how the ancient Netscape monopoly has decayed in recent times more and more from its remainders and that M§IE reached its peak around/shortly after mid-2002 and will clearly share Netscapes fate in the years coming; the upcoming competition is Mac OS X bound: Safari and Camino (formerly Chimera). Mozilla (Firebird) stays at now on a niché, but maybe improve in future too(?).

Current remark: due to the increased traffic from Firefox and predecessors I decided to show sums for both Mozilla and Firefox/-bird and Phoenix now instead of Mozillas suite navigator alone; the columns were swapped partly to care for tendencies…


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