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Chrome finishes 2010 with 10 percent share

Google and Apple browsers strip away usage share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer overall, but IE8 and IE9 do show growth.

As of December 2010, Chrome holds 10 percent of browser usage worldwide.
As of December 2010, Chrome holds 10 percent of browser usage worldwide. data from Net Applications; chart by Stephen Shankland/CNET

With the steady rise in Chrome, 1 out of every 10 people surfing the Web in December used Google's browser.

Chrome's gains have come largely at the expense of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, whose usage share has been dropping for years, but there's also a ray of hope for Redmond. IE9, which embodies Microsoft's ambition to build a cutting-edge browser once again, is showing signs of real adoption with usage that grew from 0.4 percent in November to 0.5 percent in December, according to new statistics from Net Applications.

Fractions of a percent may sound insignificant, but with hundreds of millions of people using the Web, they actually represent a large number of real users. And in the current competitive market, browser makers are attuned to where the growth is occurring.

For months now, Chrome has risen. Most recently, it rose from 9.3 percent in November statistics to 10 percent in December, according to Net Applications. That's helpful for Google's ambition to speed up the Web overall; Chrome is a vehicle by which the company can explore, develop, and promote new features, such as Native Client, SPDY, WebP, and False Start, that Google hopes will speed the Web and make it a more powerful foundation for applications.

Mozilla's Firefox, the second-place browser, stayed flat at about 22.8 percent, Apple's Safari rose from 5.6 percent to 5.9 percent, and Opera was flat at about 2.2 percent. Chrome and Safari grew at the expense of IE, which dropped from 58.4 percent to 57.1 percent.

Note that because browser usage overall is increasing, even percentages that remain flat from month to month still mean a growing user base.

Microsoft can take consolation that its share losses have come from older versions of its browser. IE6, an advanced browser when released nearly a decade ago but now despised among Web developers for retarding progress on the Web, dropped from 13.7 percent in November to 13.1 percent in December. IE7 dropped from 9.5 percent to 8.8 percent.