Apple's Safari grows to 8% browser share, WebKit now second only to Microsoft IE

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Apple's Safari browser has now exceeded an 8 percent share of web browser use across all devices, powered by strong growth in iPhone and iPad sales.



The new high water mark for Apple's web browser, combined with Google's popular Chrome browser, also now makes Apple's WebKit the second most widely used rendering engine among web browsers, second only to Microsoft's Internet Explorer and just slightly ahead of Mozilla's Firefox.



According to Net Application's NetMarketShare data, in the last two years, Microsoft's IE has slipped from nearly 67 percent share to just 52.8, while Firefox use has slipped slightly from almost 23 percent to July's reported 21.48. Google's Chrome as exploded from 2.84 percent to 13.45 percent, while Apple's Safari share has nearly doubled from 4.07 percent to 8.05 percent.



Chrome and Safari combined now represent more than 21.5 percent of web users, slightly ahead of Firefox even before adding in a small number of alternative WebKit browsers.



A decade ago, Microsoft's share of web browsing with the Windows-bundled IE reached such overwhelmingly high numbers that it appeared unlikely that any other browser could ever gain more than a scrap of market share, given the apparent lack of any profit incentive to develop an alternative web browser.



The failing Netscape Navigator browser was eventually spun off into an open source project that resulted in Mozilla, which developed the Firefox browser. Its advantages in speed and other features, combined with its independence from Microsoft, quickly created an avid following among both PC and Mac users.







The Rise of Safari and WebKit



In 2003, Apple debuted work on its own Safari browser, after Microsoft stopped actively developing IE for the Mac. Apple leveraged the existing, open source KHTML rendering engine, which it forked to deliver WebCore, a parallel project Apple continued to maintain under the GNU LGPL.



Two years later, Apple released its entire layout engine for Safari under the more permissive BSD license, naming the entire package WebKit. This package proved to be far more valuable to third parties than just the core KHTML-based rendering engine, causing WebKit to immediately be adopted by Nokia for use in its smartphone web browser for Symbian.



Google later adopted WebKit for use in both its desktop Chrome and mobile Android browsers. RIM's modern BlackBerry 6.0 browser and HP's webOS browser and entire application runtime are also based on WebKit, as are the majority of other mobile browsers, including Amazon's latest Kindle browser. WebKit is also used within a variety of applications, ranging from Apple's own Mail, iTunes and Dashboard to Adobe's AIR and Creative Suite CS5 and Valve's Steam gaming platform.



Widespread use of WebKit has enabled Apple (and other WebKit developers) to rapidly deliver and deploy new web standards ranging from Apple's Canvas to a variety of enhancements to CSS, HTML and SVG, without worrying that there won't be enough modern browsers available to take advantage of the new features. This has enabled the development of a new open platform for sophisticated web applications, commonly referred to as HTML5.



Shifting the industry toward HTML5



Apple's successful development of not just a desktop browser in the model of Firefox but also the creation of Mobile Safari for iOS devices as the first very usable, high performance mainstream mobile browser (something Mozilla has yet to deliver itself) has left a tremendous mark not only on the web browser market but in web-related development as well.



The exclusive use of HTML and JavaScript on Apple's iOS devices without any provision for plugins such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight has upended Adobe's control over the deployment of web video and other dynamic content, forcing the company to bring its development tools to an open HTML5 foundation in order to reach the valuable iOS segment of the market.



Microsoft has also largely abandoned Silverlight, its own Flash-like development environment, to instead focus on standard HTML5 tools for building web apps and services.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member
    I've been using WebKit for cross-platform development at work and have been mostly happy with it (WebKit specific style sheets behaves quirky on Mac, strangely). Google Chrome is my primary browser on Mac and PC since I gave up on Firefox during the prolonged and buggy Firefox 4 beta.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I wonder what WebKit would be based on installations if we count mobile devices.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Negafox View Post


    I've been using WebKit for cross-platform development at work and have been mostly happy with it (WebKit specific style sheets behaves quirky on Mac, strangely). Google Chrome is my primary browser on Mac and PC since I gave up on Firefox during the prolonged and buggy Firefox 4 beta.



    I'm looking forward to the Lion update for Chrome. Full screen is just so much better with the OS support.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I wonder what WebKit would be based on installations if we count mobile devices.



    The first line of the article suggests that the survey counted mobile devices.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,703member
    This article misses this one important aspect. Apple has had a lot of success with initiatives that leverage opens source concepts to drive industry adoption. WebKit and OpenCL for example have huge followings. Apples significant interest in LLVM and CLANG has given the world an viable alternative to GCC and friends. Even lib dispatch has people falling all over it.



    I know that this is under the hood kinda stuff for most but sometimes a strong foundation leads to majestic houses. These really are the building blocks of the future. Not just for Apple either, all sorts of projects have taken an interest in these technologies.
  • Reply 6 of 38
    d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    Quote:

    Microsoft has also largely abandoned Silverlight, its own Flash-like development environment, to instead focus on standard HTML5 tools for building web apps and services



    Putting it like that may be taking things a little too far. Microsoft did most certainly not abandon Silverlight, it's still the primary environment for writing WP7 applications, and I think they will continue developing it further. Maybe not for web-based applications, but it's still an important pillar in their mobile strategy, if I remember correctly Windows 8 will even use it for the touch-layer Microsoft is building into it.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,712member
    What's interesting to me is the decline of IE to 53%. It wasn't all that long ago that many web sites required IE to function and Mac users were told to just go away. I remember those days. Now there are blogs and articles out there that talk about Microsoft as a company in decline. The Apple haters have rallied around Google and Android (anything but Apple) and Microsoft is almost never mentioned. Not that MSFT is in trouble but it sure has lost the influence it once had.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,703member
    I just installed the latest WebKit nightly. It looks like they cleared up an issue or two. Though I never saw the scrolling issues others saw it appears to be even better now. It also looks like they fixed the pinch to zoom and scroll problem.



    Of course fair warning this is a nightly but it looks very good to me.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    There's something I don't understand. Apple has way more than 8% of the computer market, and WAY more than 8% of the tablet and smartphone market.



    So does this mean that lots of Apple users don't use Safari?
  • Reply 10 of 38
    allblueallblue Posts: 393member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleLover2 View Post


    There's something I don't understand. Apple has way more than 8% of the computer market, and WAY more than 8% of the tablet and smartphone market.



    So does this mean that lots of Apple users don't use Safari?



    I use FireFox. I started using it a few years back when Safari couldn't access my online banking service, and found the add-ons gave a big advantage over Safari. Since Apple opened it up to extensions they are slowly porting over (I noticed a Ghostery extension is now available) so I may switch back eventually, but for now I'm happy with FF.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    rgberryrgberry Posts: 10member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by d-range View Post


    Putting it like that may be taking things a little too far. Microsoft did most certainly not abandon Silverlight, it's still the primary environment for writing WP7 applications, and I think they will continue developing it further. Maybe not for web-based applications, but it's still an important pillar in their mobile strategy, if I remember correctly Windows 8 will even use it for the touch-layer Microsoft is building into it.



    You are right d-range. Daniel is way off. Silverlight is absolute garbage, but it is still a key technology in Microsoft's eyes.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    elmsleyelmsley Posts: 120member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleLover2 View Post


    There's something I don't understand. Apple has way more than 8% of the computer market, and WAY more than 8% of the tablet and smartphone market.



    So does this mean that lots of Apple users don't use Safari?



    I think these are worldwide. I'm sure if you exclude the US and <25, the numbers dwindle significantly, especially if you're talking Safari in a non-iOS environment. But honestly on a mobile device where real estate is limited and your browsing options are few (if at all), these stats are really skewed in telling you anything useful. 99.9% of iphone users use Safari is not a surprise. If you're showing me browser share, tell me numbers based on the customers' software (not hardware) choices.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    rgberryrgberry Posts: 10member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleLover2 View Post


    There's something I don't understand. Apple has way more than 8% of the computer market, and WAY more than 8% of the tablet and smartphone market.



    So does this mean that lots of Apple users don't use Safari?



    There would be a lot of Apple users that don't use Safari, but you need to remember that Apple has more than 8% of new sales for computers, not total computers in use world-wide. In total, Apple has about 60m Macs and say 250m iPads/iPhones/iPod Touches, but there are several billion PCs out there. The funny part of course is that there are still PC's out there in some US corporates running Win95.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    jacksonsjacksons Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgberry View Post


    The funny part of course is that there are still PC's out there in some US corporates running Win95.



    Shows you how good that stuff really is!
  • Reply 15 of 38
    jacksonsjacksons Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post


    What's interesting to me is the decline of IE to 53%.



    That's what happens when the government is crawling up your ass for a decade.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post


    That's what happens when the government is crawling up your ass for a decade.



    More "that's what happens when your browser is a complete piece of trash used only by low-IQ people".
  • Reply 17 of 38
    kevinn206kevinn206 Posts: 117member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgberry View Post


    You are right d-range. Daniel is way off. Silverlight is absolute garbage, but it is still a key technology in Microsoft's eyes.



    Please excuse my ignorance. In what ways is Silverlight garbage? Compared to what? Please remember Silverlight is managed code.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,703member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KevinN206 View Post


    Please excuse my ignorance. In what ways is Silverlight garbage?



    It is well known that Microsoft has gotten zero traction with Silverlight. That doesn't mean it is garbage just that it isn't what the market wants. There are only a few sights on the net that even us Silverlight and a good portion of them where paid by MS to use Silverlight.

    Quote:

    Compared to what?



    Compared to nothing! I'm not sure why you would ask that question as failure or success for that matter isn't judged against other hardware.

    Quote:

    Please remember Silverlight is managed code.



    What in the hell is that suppose to mean? Honestly managed code has no advantage over traditional coding methods. At least not with what passes for modern programming languages. Frankly the market has grown pretty sour on C# and some of MS other initiatives.
  • Reply 19 of 38
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,703member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post


    Shows you how good that stuff really is!



    In industry the mentality is DFWI {Don't Fûćh With It}. Often an upgrade is extremely painful and expensive. Especially if custom hardware or software is involved. It isn't a question of good or bad but rather time and money.



    Heck I worked on a machine for years that still used tubes because validation of more modern hardware was considered to be too expensive. In this case it was the difference between using components requiring a forklift to those one man could handle.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleLover2 View Post


    There's something I don't understand. Apple has way more than 8% of the computer market, and WAY more than 8% of the tablet and smartphone market.



    So does this mean that lots of Apple users don't use Safari?





    I personally use chrome as the main browser. It has pinnable tabs, more extensions and takes up less screen real estate in both windowed and full screen mode (even in lion). Plus it consistently outdoes safari in terms of HTML5 support.



    My secondary browser is webkit nightly.
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