Because Net Applications weights its results by country -- using the CIA's 2009 data on the world's population of Internet users -- it counts each Chinese user as more important than average. That's because it, like all Western tracking firms, has trouble accurately monitoring browser usage in China.
If Net Applications' data shows China's share of the world's users is only a third of what the CIA calculates, then the company would count each Chinese user's browser three times.
(According to the CIA, in 2009 China's online population represented 21.4 percent of the world's Internet users, while the U.S. -- the only other country in double digits -- accounted for 13.5 percent of the planet's online users.)
It's no coincidence that China is a bastion of IE6 users, and that Net Applications, what with its weighted calculations, believes the aged browser is run by 6 percent of the world's Internet users, and by more than one-in-every-ten IE user.
Among their few points of agreement, Net Applications and StatCounter both reported a slow uptake of Firefox 13, the version that launched June 5. According to Net Applications, the new edition accounted for 30.7 percent of all Firefox copies used last month; StatCounter said Firefox 13's share of all Mozilla browsers was 33.6 percent.
Both numbers were considerably lower than the share that a new Firefox usually musters a month after its introduction.
Mozilla has blamed an emergency update that was released June 15 for the slow upgrade tempo.
Net Applications and StatCounter also agreed on the positions of Apple's Safari and Opera Software's Opera on the desktop, which were ranked by both as the No. 4 and No. 5 browsers, respectively.
Safari garnered 4.7 percent in Net Applications' data, 7 percent in StatCounter's; Opera's share was measured at 1.6 percent by Net Applications and 1.8 percent by StatCounter.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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