By John Gruber
A week or so after Safari debuted, I took a look at my access logs to find out how many Daring Fireball readers were using it (along with numerous other common browsers).
I just did it again, looking only at my logs from the first 16 days of February 2003:
Browser Unique Visitors ----------- --------------- Safari 4,013 Camino 1,121 IE Mac 909 Mozilla Mac 244 IE Windows 3,737 Mozilla Other 713
It is not possible to accurately count “unique visitors”. What I do is count each originating IP address once (once for each browser, actually). This means that if you’re using DHCP and get a new IP address from your ISP, you’ll get counted twice. Similarly, multiple visitors coming from behind the same proxy or router (like if you have several machines sharing a cable modem connection at home) will only be counted once, because in the logs they’re sharing a single IP address. It’s a good estimate, though.
Browsers can lie about what they are in their user-agent descriptions. For example, many minority browsers claim to be some version of Internet Explorer or Netscape in order to get past stupid browser-detection scripts that would otherwise prevent these browsers from accessing a site’s content. Thus, I’m no longer bothering to count browsers like OmniWeb, Opera, and iCab, because I don’t believe there’s any way to do so accurately.
I’m still amazed by the number of Daring Fireball readers who are using Windows. I suppose some of you are here because of SmartyPants, but my guess is that many of you are reading Daring Fireball from work. Good for you.
The content of Daring Fireball is such that the readership surely skews toward enthusiastic Mac nerds. I still think these numbers are interesting, but in no way do I (nor should you) interpret them as being indicative of browser usage amongst Mac users in general.