Net Applications institutes ‘Country Level Weighting,’ cuts Apple’s Mac ‘market share’ in half

Net Applications, which publishes monthly so-called-but-not-really “market share” numbers for such things as browsers and operating systems, has announced that their stats are now weighted by country. The company’s website states:

In the past, we reported only on our raw numbers. As of August 1st, we have implemented retroactive country-level weighting in our reports. This means that we adjust our reports proportionally based on how much traffic we record from a country vs. how many internet users that country has. For example, although we have significant data from China, it is relatively small compared to the number of internet users in China. Therefore, we now weight Chinese traffic proportionally higher in our global reports. This change produces a much more accurate view of worldwide usage share statistics.

After consulting with many of the organizations we report data on, we decided to use C.I.A. data as the source of the number of internet users per country.

In addition to providing better share numbers, the reason we made this change was due to growing traffic imbalances in certain countries. Some countries were growing traffic at a much higher pace than the rest of the world and it was creating unacceptable variances in the share numbers. The reason we delayed June numbers was due to these imbalances. From now on, a single high growth country will not be able to affect the global share numbers.

This change has produced some significant changes in usage share for various technologies. The primary ones are:

Baidu – Baidu goes to 9% of global search engine usage. Baidu is on a major growth curve, which is affecting the relative share of all other search engines.

Google – Because of Baidu’s growth, Google’s global share is actually going down. This is almost completely due to Baidu and does not reflect the rest of the world.

Apple – Since Mac share in the U.S. in significantly higher than the rest of the world, Mac and Safari share drop in the global reports.

Opera – Opera goes up to 2% in global reports. This reflects the significant share they have in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Full article here.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune, “The so-called market share reports issued every month by Net Applications have long been controversial — mostly because they didn’t actually measure market share (which business people typically express as the number of widgets they sell in a given period divided by the total number of widgets sold). What Net Applications did instead was sample data from browsers visiting their clients’ websites and report what percentage came from machines running Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.”

Net Applications’ “market share” reports’ “dependability — and perhaps their credibility — just took a huge hit,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “Starting in June the company changed the way it weights its data, giving more weight to page views from countries with large Internet populations that aren’t well represented by their clients (such as China) and less weight to hits from countries like the U.S. that are over-represented in their data.”

“The effect was to cause wrenching changes in the results — so wrenching that Net Applications skipped its June report entirely,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “And on Saturday, when it finally issued its July report, the new country-by-country fudge factors were applied retroactively to all past reports.”

Elmer-DeWitt reports, “To see how different they are from the old, we have to go back to May, the last month for which we have comparable data… Microsoft Windows’ share grew more than 6%; Apple Mac OS X fell more than 51%;The iPhone OS lost nearly 60%; The iPod touch — whose rapid growth was the subject of a Net Applications featured report — fell off the chart; Java ME — Sun Microsystem’s (JAVA) plaform for mobile devices, barely a blip in previous reports — grew 212%.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we’ve always noted, the actual percentage numbers are not as important as the trends shown since all “market share” reports have unique measurement sources. If anything, Net Applications is providing one measure of installed base, rather than “market share.”

Again, what’s important are the trends (and consistent data points, which, with the “country level weighting” applied retroactively, still provide consistency). The trends show Apple’s Mac OS X and Safari web browser ascending. Frankly, what’s more important to a platform’s health and to developers (at least it should be) is installed base, which, for Mac OS X, is currently over 33 million discerning users — who actually pay for software (imagine that!) — and growing.

The actual numbers can be made to say anything, but the facts remain, Windows PC shipments, even with a flood of cheapo “netbooks,” have been declining while Mac shipments continue to rise.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Scot,” “MacRadDoc,” and “qka” for the heads up.]


  1. Message to Pundits: Per the comments in the MDN Take, it is important to observe the trends. This week’s trend shows Apple’s market share cut in half probably by Netbook sales!!!

  2. Windows grew from 88% to 93%.
    Mac dropped from 10% to 5%.
    Linux grew by 18% but still doesn’t achieve 1% market share.

    iPhone, iPod touch might as well not be on the chart not placing as high as “other.”

    I call shenanigans.

  3. Since how Net Applications measures share has no effect on any aspect of Apple Inc.’s performance and doesn’t in anyway retard or hinder the rate at which Apple Inc. is acquiring market share relative to its competitors in the markets for client computers (the Mac), smartphones (the iPhone), media players (the iPods, particularly the iPod Touch), the various iTunes Stores (music, video, iPhone Apps, etc.), then so what.

  4. the only ‘people’ who might be interested in the numbers and percentages are the four-eyed, little weasels with pants pulled up to their ribcage, basement slumming with the molds cause they can’t stand the light, anal-ists.


  5. For example, although we have significant data from China, it is relatively small compared to the number of internet users in China. Therefore, we now weight Chinese traffic proportionally higher in our global reports.

    Um, what? Shouldn’t it be the other way around, that it gets *less* weight? Or am I missing something?

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