While Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser is generally on a slow incline (though its latest version, IE 9 is on the way up), and Firefox seems to have flatlined, Google’s Chrome has eaten up the largest portion of web browser usage share over the past year or so. This past month, however, both Chrome and Safari showed strong gains. And since these browsers are both based on the same rendering engine, WebKit, they may be worth considering as a single entity.

Chrome now controls 13.5 percent of overall web browser usage share, according to NetApplications, good for a third place finish behind IE (53 percent) and Firefox (21.5 percent). And Safari, bringing up the rear with 8 percent usage share, is nonetheless experiencing even stronger growth than Chrome. Put Chrome and Safari together, however, and something interesting emerges. These two WebKit browsers now account for 21.5 percent usage share, identical to that of Firefox.

july2010_webbrowser_usage_0Given the success of Apple's i-devices, which also use Safari, and the fact that mobile versions of Firefox are non-existent and/or not interesting, and it’s impossible to believe this isn't a tipping point: From now on, I expect WebKit, overall, to outperform Firefox overall. And it's a matter of time, I suppose, before just Chrome beats Firefox.

Microsoft’s successes with IE 9 shouldn’t be understated—the company noted today that IE 9 alone accounts for almost 25 percent usage share in the US. But with mainstream computing moving from traditional PCs and towards more mobile, highly connected devices, it’s also clear that this desktop success will be somewhat mooted by the rise of devices. Devices, which more often than not are running WebKit browsers.