New Web data removes 'Apple bias,' slashes Mac share

Net Applications' data-weighting change drops OS X share below 5%

Revised data from a prominent Web metrics company dropped Apple under the 5% market-share mark, about half what the same firm said Macs enjoyed just two months ago.

According to data released Saturday by Net Applications, Apple's Mac OS X accounted for 4.9% of the total global market share in July, up from 4.7% the month before, but off significantly from May's 9.8%.

The dramatic drop was due to a change in the California company's methodology, which now weights OS usage by the estimated size of each country's Internet population. According to Net Applications, countries such as China, Brazil and India were underrepresented in its previous calculations, while others, like the U.S., were over-represented in its unique visitor tallies.

"Some major Internet markets were not as well-represented as they should have been," said Vince Vizzaccaro, Net Applications executive vice president of marketing, explaining the change. "China was one of those major markets, and one of the driving forces in Internet growth."

The result, he said, was that Net Applications' data leaned too heavily toward English-language site. "That's why the Apple numbers took a big hit," he said, noting that Apple's sales strength is also in English-speaking markets. "We had a strong Apple bias."

Net Applications measures operating system usage by tracking the machines that surf to the 40,000 sites it monitors for clients, which results in a data pool of about 160 million unique visitors per month.

But although Apple's share plummeted, Vizzaccaro stood by his company's data. "The trends are accurate," he argued. "It is a big change, but it's a more accurate portrayal of the Internet."

Apple's "loss" was Microsoft's gain: Net Applications pegged Windows total usage share for July as 93% under the new way of counting clicks; using the old methodology, Windows accounted for 87.8% of the OS market in May.

"Windows' increase is best attributed to Apple's lower numbers," said Vizzaccaro.

As Vizzaccaro said, however, earlier trends remained intact. In the new tallies, Windows slipped 0.4 of a percentage point in the last 90 days while the Mac climbed by 0.2 of a percentage point during the same period.

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