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How widely used is Chrome? More than I expected

In two months, Google's Chrome rose from nothing to 3.6 percent of browsers used to view CNET News. It's less common in the mainstream though.

CNET News browser share
Chrome doesn't have much market share among CNET News visitors, but it's climbing. CNET News

Is Google's Chrome browser mainstream?

Certainly not. But I've been curious how widespread its use is, in particular because I'm curious if I have any company in my choice to set Chrome as my default browser.

Now playing: Watch this: Daily Debrief: Why Chrome is catching on

So I persuaded CNET's tech guys to give a window on what's going on here at CNET News. The result surprised me: 3.6 percent of those visiting the site in October used Chrome, up from 1 percent in September, when Google launched Chrome.

That's higher than I expected. It lagged Microsoft Internet Explorer, with 40.7 percent, Firefox with 37.4 percent, and Safari with 18.2 percent, but beat out Opera, with 1.2 percent in October. (Other browsers bring the total to 100 percent.)

Of course, CNET News has a more adventurous and techno-savvy audience than the average Web site. For comparison, I looked at data from Net Applications, which releases browser statistics based on the 160 million different people who visit a network of 40,000 sites using its Web analytics service. The company's data skews somewhat toward usage in North America and Europe, but it's still a more mainstream view of browser use than our site's.

Net Applications gives Chrome's share at 0.74 percent, essentially tied with Opera at 0.75 percent for October. Leading the pack is IE with 71.3 percent, followed by Firefox at 20 percent, and Safari at 6.6 percent.

So it doesn't look like Chrome is crushing either of the major powers. But second-tier browser companies should certainly be paying attention, given how rapidly Chrome ascended to striking distance. Google has a strong brand and a lot of programmers, even though most folks still aren't convinced they need to switch.

Chrome is rarer among mainstream users.
Chrome is rarer, with 0.74 percent share, in Net Applications' measurements of millions of browser users. Net Applications