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Friday, January 01, 2010, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Chrome edges out Safari, iPhone OS continues growth in December - report

Apple ends the year with solid iPhone OS growth, a slowing - but stable Mac OS X market share, and its Safari web browser being edged out by Google's Chrome.

In its final report of 2009, web metrics firm Net Applications found that the iPhone OS has continued to gain in market share, with 0.43 percent of the total OS market, a 20 percent increase over November's numbers. This falls in line with expected growth in iPhone sales over last quarter's 7.4 million units. Apple is believed to have shipped up to 11.3 million units this quarter, a number that represents a more than 50 percent increase over the previous quarter. Other analysts place this number at a more conservative 8.8 million units sold.

Mac OS X has plateaued as of December with a 5.11 percent market share, a increase of around 8.5 percent from its January 2009 numbers, but nearly identical to November's amount. These numbers also fall in line with estimates, with Apple projected to sell 2.85 million Macs this quarter, compared to 3.05 million last quarter.

Google's new Chrome browser has passed Apple's Safari in December with a 4.63 percent market share compared to Safari's 4.46. This places Chrome in third-place behind number-two Firefox with around 25 percent and first-place Internet Explorer at more than 60 percent.

A beta version of Chrome for Mac was released early in December, more than a year after the debut of the Windows version. In speed tests, Safari was found to be slightly faster than Chrome, and twice as fast as Firefox.

Overall, Apple is expected to have a "blowout" quarter due to its strength in all major categories of its business, and is expected to beat Wall Street estimates by a fair margin.