Apple’s Mac OS X, Safari web browser show significant market share gains in 2005

NetApplications, a provider of Web-based applications that measure, monitor and market Web sites for Small to Medium Enterprises (SME), today announced its monthly Web site browser statistics for year-end 2005.

Microsoft Internet Explorer ended 2004 with 90.31% browser usage market share, and steadily lost ground, ending 2005 with 85.05% market share. Microsoft promises IE’s first major upgrade in years in 2006, but has also announced that it is abandoning the Mac version of IE. Mozilla Firefox championed the open source browser concept and is the primary challenger to IE’s dominance. Firefox ended 2004 with 4.64% market share and although it started 2005 on fire, it cooled off during the summer months. Toward the end of the year, after releasing Firefox 1.5, it regained its momentum and closed the year at an impressive 9.57%.

Apple’s Safari browser enjoyed a highly successful 2005 as the only browser to gain market share each and every month of the year. Safari ended 2004 in fourth place with 1.56% market share. Safari gained steadily to end 2005, and leaped past Netscape to grab the third leading browser spot at 3.07% market share.

Netscape joined IE as the only browsers to lose market share in 2005. Netscape ended 2004 with 2.07% of browser usage market share, and was the third leading browser at the time. After an admitted error in reporting itself as either Firefox or IE was discovered and fixed, and an announced deal with HP to include Netscape browsers with new computers, Netscape enjoyed a brief surge in September to 2.16%. However, Netscape ended 2005 in 4th place with 1.24% browser usage market share.

Opera browser from Opera Software ended 2005 with 0.55% browser usage market share, which is exactly where it ended in 2004. Opera held steady while it completely changed its business model, going from a choice of a free browser with banner ads or a paid browser without the banners to a free browser without ads model. Opera browser maintains a strong presence on handhelds, and as those devices start to become more prominent, Opera is well-placed to take advantage of it.

“The close of 2005 marks the end of the calendar year, but also sets the stage for a very interesting 2006,” observed Vince Vizzaccaro, executive vice president of marketing and strategic relationships at NetApplications in the press release. “While any company would be thrilled to hold Microsoft’s 85% market share, IE can not rest lightly. Netscape also once owned a huge percentage prior to IE’s debut.”

Vizzaccaro continued, “FireFox is very close to hitting a critical mass of 10% which could mean a more rapid adoption rate. However, IE won’t go away quietly as major, and long overdue upgrades are expected to be released in 2006. With Microsoft abandoning the Mac, combined with Apple’s continuing market share gains, Safari has even more room to grow. Netscape seems to have been hit hard by Firefox’s success, so 2006 will test the company’s vigilance to hold on to and increase its user-base.”

December 2005 Browser Market Share:
1. Microsoft Internet Explorer – 85.05%
2. FireFox – 9.57%
3. Safari – 3.07% (Dec 2004: 1.56%)
4. Netscape – 1.24%
5. Opera – 0.55%
6. Other – 0.53%

November 2005 Browser Market Share:
1. Microsoft Internet Explorer – 86.08%
2. FireFox – 8.84%
3. Safari – 2.78%
4. Netscape – 1.25%
5. Opera – 0.53%
6. Other – 0.43%

December 2005 Operating System Market Share:
1. Windows XP – 78.92%
2. Windows 2000 – 9.06%
3. Windows 98 – 4.45%
4. Mac OS – 4.35% – (Dec 2004: 3.29%)
5. Windows ME – 1.88%
6. Windows NT – 0.80%
7. Linux – 0.30%

November 2005 Operating System Market Share:
1. Windows XP – 77.92%
2. Windows 2000 – 9.82%
3. Windows 98 – 4.78%
4. Mac OS – 4.11%
5. Windows ME – 1.99%
6. Windows NT – 0.86%
7. Linux – 0.30%

Additional statistics are available at

NetApplications uses a unique methodology for collecting this data. NetApplications collects data from the browsers of site visitors to our exclusive on demand network of small to medium enterprise live stats customers. The sample size for these sites is more than 40,000 urls and growing. The information published is an aggregate of the data from this network of hosted website statistics. The site unique visitor and referral information is summarized on a monthly basis.

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Related article:
Apple’s Mac OS X, Safari web browser show market share gains – December 03, 2005


  1. Somewhat surprising, given that Safari is now the only browser on my Mac or my PC that still suffers from spontaneous crashes with web pages it doesn’t like. Very much still work in progress, although clean and simple when it does work.

  2. It does seem to put a lie to the claim (made repeatedly at this site) that the % mac install base is somewhere in the teens. Hmmm…maybe they’re not using the net??

  3. The Safari numbers are only loosely related to install base…

    — Being a minority browser, many sites claim to not work with it (browser sniffing) regardless of the realities. Hence, some people will use the debug menu and spoof the User-Agent string to be MSIE 6.0 or such. Few if any MSIE users find it necessary to claim to be something else

    — Firefox, as noted, is very popular. A significant number of OS X users will be using that, as well.

    Additionally, without knowing the types of sites they sample from, it’s not possible to say how meaningful the numbers are. For visitors to MDN, the percentage of Safari users will be much higher. For windows-centric sites, probably lower. Popular gaming sites also would, I think, tend to be skewed towards Windows users since a smaller percentage of Mac users are, I think, gamers.

    Why don’t we ever see a survey that involves actually doing telephone polling? That would likely eliminate a lot of the potential biases/errors in the study above.

    Of course, it might introduce biases of its own – more Windows users will lie out of shame than Mac users, I’d bet.

  4. I think many Mac user are using Firefox. Firefox sometimes fills the gap when a web site is written entirely for IE. I use Safari as much as I can.

    Many people, like me, suffer Windows at work (since they discovered my Mac and disconnected it) and use IE. I have fought ‘the man’ and use Firefox even though it is not “approved” by my company.

    I hope sanity works its way back into enterprise. Even creative agencies that build Web sites are not testing for anything but IE. There’s just no quality assurance these days!

  5. “It does seem to put a lie to the claim (made repeatedly at this site) that the % mac install base is somewhere in the teens. Hmmm…maybe they’re not using the net??”

    % Mac install base inflated? Blame it on the Internet’s “Echo Chamber” effect, which this site suffers very much from.

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