Google exec claims Chrome is the world's most popular browser

Microsoft declines to comment on usage metric spat that started earlier this month

Google yesterday claimed that its Chrome is the world's most popular browser, interceding for the first time in the dispute over browser usage share.

"According to all our metrics and everything we see out there, Chrome is the most popular browser in the world," said Sundar Pichai, vice president of Chrome, in remarks at the second day of Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference.

Pichai's claim was bolder than the one he made last month at the Wall Street Journal's All Thing Digital conference, when he said, "It's fair to say we are No. 1 or [just] barely No. 2 in all countries in the world."

During that interview with Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg, Pichai also said, "Our internal data corresponds pretty well to what StatCounter reported."

StatCounter, an Irish company that supplies website analytics tools -- and uses customers' sites to track browser usage via page views -- said that last month Chrome for the first time surpassed Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) as the globe's most widely-used browser.

According to StatCounter, Chrome accounted for 32.4% of all page views in May, beating IE's cumulative 32.1%.

Since then, both StatCounter and Net Applications, a U.S. Web measurement firm that also publishes browser statistics, have taken shots at each other's methodologies, each arguing that their numbers paint a more accurate picture of browser share.

The root cause of the bickering: Chrome's purported rise to the top of the browser chart.

After StatCounter's knock earlier this month, Microsoft shot back, defending Net Applications and chastising StatCounter for what it called "a personal attack" on Roger Capriotti, who heads Microsoft's marketing efforts for IE.

Today, Microsoft declined to comment on Pichai's claim that Chrome is the planet's most popular browser.

However, a spokeswoman again said Microsoft stood by Net Applications. "We look to Net Applications for the most accurate position on browser market share," she said in an email replay to questions, and pointed to a March blog by Capriotti, the same post that riled StatCounter earlier this month.

Microsoft is a Net Applications customer and, like many other companies, pays the research firm for access to browser usage data that Net Applications does not offer the public or the media.

Although the month is not over, StatCounter currently has Chrome's share for June at 32.7%, a three-tenths of a percentage point increase from the month before, and pegged IE's at 32.3% for June, a two-tenths of a point climb.

The gap between the two browsers -- three-tenths of a point in May -- grew to four-tenths of a percentage point in June by StatCounter's preliminary figures.

Net Applications will not publish its June figures until Sunday, July 1.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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