Google Knows

Many are afraid Google knows too much and some of those may work at M$.

% Visits from OS 11/1/09 – 2/1/10 11/1/10 – 2/1/11 Difference
Windows 89.9% 84.8% -5.1%
Macintosh 4.5% 5.2% +0.7%
Linux 0.6% 0.7% +0.1%
Other 5% 9.3% +4.3%

That’s Google’s analysis of UserAgent strings from hundreds of thousands of users of Google Analytics, web sites scattered around the globe (“Data contained here comes from all websites which have opted-in anonymous data sharing with Google Analytics.”). It’s just as scientific as Net Applications and just as biased but at least we know another source of information. One thing is clear, that other OS is on a downward share of the WWW.

GNU/Linux is hanging in there, which means cranking out 10% more installations or so annually, millions to be sure. Android/Linux is taking a large share of “Other”, no doubt, taking share from M$.

What is different is how rapidly the share is changing. Up til now we had seen 1 or 2 percentage points change per annum. Now the change is much more serious. Android/Linux, in particular, has a shot at hundreds of millions of users in the next year or so and that’s a huge word-of-mouth advertising base for products other than smart phones and tablets. We already see a few netbooks running Android/Linux.

Nothing prevents Android and ARM from taking permanent share from M$ for non-mobile computing as well in thin clients, notebooks and desktops. People who do what smart phones allow them on the web will want to do the same at desks or tables. There is a market. That’s why M$ is porting to ARM, to try to head that off.

It remains to be seen how long it will take M$ to get into the game. Will it be at half-time or will the game be over by the time “8” is released? There is room for Android/Linux to increase its rate of uptake as manufacturers catch up with demand. The popularity of the tablet caught many by surprise but they are clearly a product, along with the smart phone, whose time has come.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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11 Responses to Google Knows

  1. oiaohm says:

    Contrarian comes down to what you defined a computer.

    That was the big point my numbers are showing. At the moment about 20 percent of the interface devices are not Microsoft. This is 1/5. Not a low number. With no sign in the change in that direction stopping.

    There are now tablets with dock-able keyboards. Netbooks have not disappeared they have changed shape.

    Even at height of netbooks MS was not facing 1 in 5 devices out without their OS.

    No matter how you look at it MS strangle hold is reducing.

    oldman is partly right about applications. While the market share is dominated by 1 OS. People don’t have reasons to do cross platform work as much as they should.

    The scary but is even a market split 50 percent apple 50 percent MS Windows. Will give Linux a better chance of foot hold than the current 80 percent Microsoft.

    Everything is moving in the right direction for Linux to gain. The market has to be right for Linux to gain massively.

    Android, ChromeOS are both stepping stones to crack the market up.

  2. Contrarian says:

    “there’s no reason… There was probably … There are more…”

    Quite a bit of hand-waving and grasping at straws there #twitter! It must be rather nervous, using such a reference to a Microsoft-prepared PowerPoint slide graphic to even have a point to start with. Do you think that their slides are meant to be scaled with such precision? Perhaps it was only shown so large as to be visible from the back row of the room.

    In any case, if there was any real action in Linux as a desktop OS, there would be someone somewhere in the real media and real marketing world offering a real statistical study report on that real opportunity. As it is, all you have is the voodoo sort of reasoning that you offer here or that #pogson is fond of deriving whenever he finds someone, never mind who, offering a single data point for him to position his set of relative values about.

    The very idea that you all have to resort to such shennanigans to convince yourselves that you are on the right track and the rest of the world is deluded should give you some reason to question what you are saying. Meanwhile, Microsoft sells Windows on just about every computer coming off every shelf in the nation outside the Apple Store itself.

  3. oiaohm says:

    Richard Chapman not really.

    Basically you need a report like this to see how they are breaking the numbers down. I would say in the google numbers Android and Linux are split.

    I would have been expecting for desktop between 0.8 and 1.0. 0.6 and 0.7 suggests particular distributions browser id strings have been missed as Linux.

    Yes android has made quite impressive progress.

    Huge other numbers are always a problem. Also you can always bet Linux numbers are lower than they should be.

    Most are showing uniform market loss to Microsoft Windows. Some markets Apple is showing as the huge gain. Some markets Linux is showing huge gain.

    Please note wikimedia is bias to english speaking. China and set of other countries really don’t show up on their. Yes where most of the world population is. Where apple does not do exactly that well.

    So yes 20 percent globally not under Microsoft Windows control would be about right. How that 20 percent is broken down alters country to country.

  4. Richard Chapman says:

    Wow! Linux desktop percentage this, Linux desktop percentage that. I guess the desktop really is the last market left for GNU/Linux to own. Must be, some people are going out of their way to make the numbers look small. It’s easy to do with a mostly noncommercial entity like GNU/Linux. One way or another reality will make itself known.

  5. twitter says:

    I agree that it is difficult to extract useful information from liars, so the numbers are suspect. It is better to ignore them but when you hear them say something that is obviously not in their best interest we can assume the liar slipped up as all liars do.

    Steve Ballmer presented this slide showing that Microsoft thinks more people use gnu/linux than OSX and that the combined share was about 12%. Ballmer claimed that “Windows Unlicensed” accounts for computers that sell without Windows. Because Ballmer was trying to prove some kind of economic benefit to Windows use, there’s no reason for him to have inflated the share of other OS at the time. There was probably more gnu/linux user than Microsoft would like to admit at the time because every young person even remotely interested in making a living from computers and many freedom minded people were already using it. There are more gnu/linux users today.

  6. oiaohm says:

    Ray correct that a lot of people will not be goggling from desktops and laptops any more.

    Issue here android web browsers don’t user agent report as Linux and not all Linux distrobutions report as Linux either. 0.7% is less than the real amount of Linux out there. You can 100 percent bet a Windows machine or a OS X machine will not be reporting Linux. Not 100 percent true with Linux. Their are still sites I need to use I need to fake my useragent string from Linux to Windows so they work. So even that I am a Linux user someones I would be appearing in those numbers to be a Windows user.

    Without knowing the useragents google is using you cannot be sure how much it seeing.

    Yes the growth in portables is under mining MS desktop dominance more than desktop Linux or OS X ever has.

  7. Ray says:

    From the looks of it, people are switching from googling on desktops and laptops, to doing it on cell phones, and smart pohones.

  8. Google does not state the share of PCs that run GNU/Linux. They state the share of GNU/Linux UserAgents that visit a certain collection of sites. That’s quite different. The two concepts can have different measures for many reasons, only one of which is error.

    The community does a great job with GNU/Linux. On my whole system loaded with apps and services I find only a few bugs and no down time. Google does not generate most of the code in Android/Linux it comes from many projects. That’s the beauty of FLOSS; code can truly be re-used and not just in-house.

  9. oldman says:

    “There is plenty of reason to believe GNU/Linux is on greater than 1% share, so the site must have some kind of bias”

    Are you saying that Google is wrong Pog? That sounds to me like a classic case of the sad triumph of hope over experience.

    “Google does not have massive development costs. The apps are mostly created by third parties.”

    Ah, but they do have to provide a capable platform for all those ISV’s, AND continue to improve and and polish the OS services that Android delivers. They can’t rely on the community for these because the community hasn’t shown that it knows QA from a hole in the ground.

    As you have observed, going it alone will cost Google time and money.

    “According to M$ in 2007, GNU/Linux was at 7%”

    So now we believe Microsoft when it is convenient eh, Pog? For all you know Microsoft may have been deliberately inflating the desktop Linux numbers to make it look less like a rout than it actually is.

  10. Google does not have massive development costs. The apps are mostly created by third parties.

    We do not know the sites sampled. There is plenty of reason to believe GNU/Linux is on greater than 1% share, so the site must have some kind of bias:

  11. According to IDC back in 2003/4, GNU/Linux caught up with MacOS
  12. According to M$ in 2007, GNU/Linux was at 7%
  13. Dell and other OEMs have been cranking out units while individuals have been installing on tons of machines for years
  14. W3Schools and Wikipedia show a much larger share