Snow Leopard Adoption Rate

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard has been out for a little over three weeks now. I’ve gone through the Google Analytics stats for Daring Fireball to see how quickly DF readers are switching to it, comparing 10.6 Snow Leopard’s percentage against 10.5 Leopard’s.

[Update 22 September 2009: Improved chart, expressing percentages as areas rather than lines, and updated numbers for 21 September. Also, check out those little blips around the weekends — I suspect enthusiasts are quicker to update their home machines than IT departments are to update work machines.]

A few notes:

  • The numbers come from Google Analytics, and I’ve chosen to measure “visitors” (rather than, say, page views), because I think it correlates the closest to individual readers.

  • The percentages are based on total Mac users, not total DF readers. Over the period in question, Mac users account for 77.5 percent of the total visitors to Daring Fireball; Windows clocks in at 12.8 percent1 and iPhone OS at 7.5.

  • I’m only charting Intel 10.5 users against Intel 10.6 users. PowerPC 10.5 users account for about 4.5 percent of DF-reading Mac users, but they cannot upgrade to Snow Leopard without buying a new Intel-based Mac. Feel free to add 5 percent to the 10.5 Leopard numbers to get a sense of how many 10.5 users there are, regardless of architecture.

  • Throughout July, Snow Leopard’s numbers were already running at around 5 percent on a daily basis, and they slowly inched upward throughout August. By 27 August, the day before Snow Leopard went on sale, that number had grown to 11.2 percent. Even knowing how many developers read DF, that surprised me.

Important Caveat: Daring Fireball readers are, without question, not representative of Mac users in general. Draw from these numbers what you will, but do not assume they represent Mac users in general.

Snow Leopard Adoption by Mac-Using DF Visitors

Chart comparing percentage of Mac using DF visitors using Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6, 27 Aug–22 Sep 2009.

Numbers are the percentage of Mac-using visitors to Daring Fireball. The empty area at the top is for “other”, mostly Mac OS X 10.4. Click here to view the chart as a line graph. View the raw numbers here.)

So it took about five days for 10.6 to pass 10.5. I made similar comparisons in 2005 and 2003 when, respectively, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and 10.3 Panther shipped. These Snow Leopard numbers compare pretty well, but it’s worth noting that both the number of Mac users and number of DF readers have grown significantly since then.


  1. Among all Windows-using DF visitors, XP accounts for 71.2%, Vista 17.3%, and NT 9%. Alas, Google Analytics does not break down iPhone OS users by version number. 

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