After months of gaining Web browser market share, Google’s Chrome Web browser numbers have gone down according to Net Applications. It’s not however that Chrome has grown any less popular, it’s how Net Applications is measuring Web browser usage.
Google’s Web browser, starting with Chrome 13, uses a technique called ‘pre-rendering’ to speed up Web page loading. This pre-loads page or pages “while the user is typing in search queries in order to load that page faster when the user clicks on the associated search result link. Chrome pre-renders pages based on either HTTP headers inserted by the site creator or based on an algorithm that predicts the likelihood the user will click on the search result link.” Google started using this technique more aggressively in the latest version of the browser, Chrome 17.
This results in faster page loads for users, but Net Applications believes “this traffic varies significantly by browser and should not be included in the usage share for the browsers.” At this time, “Chrome is the only major desktop browser that currently has this feature, which creates un-viewed visits that should not be counted in Chrome’s usage share. However, the pages that are eventually viewed by the user should be treated normally. Therefore, “Within the sites in our network, pre-rendering in February 2012 accounted for 4.3% of Chrome’s daily unique visitors. These visits will now be excluded from Chrome’s desktop browser share.”
The bottom line is Chrome is still in third place, by Net Applications’ measurement.