Chrome's rapid rise in the browser market has slowed. Is it all downhill from here?
Google Chrome turned five last month and after a remarkable rise, its growth appears to have stalled, at least on the desktop.
Chrome's global desktop market share slipped to 15.96% in September, the lowest it has been in the past two years, according to NetMarketShare, and off its high of 19.13% in August 2012.
"Chrome seems to be following a similar path to Firefox's," said Vince Vizzaccaro, executive VP of marketing and strategic alliances at NetApplications.com, in an email. "A seemingly meteoric rise, and then a period of steadiness. It might be that they've reached the majority of people they can, who are willing to switch from IE or Firefox."
Vizzaccaro added, "Chrome is the new kid on the block, but let's not forget that IE was the original disruption to the market that Netscape once owned. Historical data trends show there will be another disruption to the browser market at some point — it's just a matter of when, and by whom."
The news is better for Chrome's mobile market share, which was just 0.67% in September 2012 and now stands at 6.34%, according to NetMarketShare.
But that growth has largely been at the expense of Google's own Android browser, which lost 4 percentage points from its November 2012 highwater mark as Chrome gained 5 percentage points. Chrome for Android was released in beta form in February 2012 and for iOS in April 2012.
Better still from Google's perspective: Since Chrome debuted on iOS, the market share of Apple's mobile Safari browser -- Google's main rival at the moment -- has declined to 54.19% from a high of 66.43%.
Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter, another metrics firm, suggests that Chrome might have plateaued but hasn't declined. Regarding mobile usage, he said in an email, "If we combine the Chrome and Android figures (to get the total usage share for Google's mobile browsers), that share doesn't appear to be in decline. It has been holding steady between 32% and 33% for the last few months."
As for desktop usage, Cullen maintains it's too early to tell if Chrome has peaked. Pointing to the seasonal variation in Chrome, he said we'll need to wait a few more months to get a handle on whether Chrome usage has begun to decline.
By StatCounter's measure, Chrome's global market share for desktop and mobile stood at 40.8% in September 2012, down from a high of 43.12% in July.
W3Counter, another firm that measures browser usage, put Chrome's market share at 31.4% in September, down from a high of 32.6% in June.