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Re: Let's talk strategy (Netscape's 75% figure)

From: Rich Wiggins <WIGGINS@msu.edu>
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 95 17:19:49 EDT
Message-Id: <9508022138.AA16009@www10.w3.org>
To: <www-talk@w3.org>
>>But, there is a fundamental flaw here -- the assumption that accesses to
>>specific sites by Netscape browsers imply something about the percentages of
>>overall users using Netscape. That assumption does not take into account
>>the patterns of browsing behavior actually used on the Web.

It's good to see someone raising this issue. The 75% figure tracks very
well at our site as well. (Actually, it's more like 69%, but we run a
busy public Lynx client, skewing the numbers a bit.)

I agree that the 75% of the market figure is NOT necessarily a measure
of the number of users running Netscape; instead, it's a measure of the
number of transactions seen by servers. But, I've given several training
gigs to large audiences lately, and I always ask which Web browser
people use, and 75% of the hands (roughly) go up when I ask "Netscape?"

Since most of my lecture audiences are university types, you might
assume that this is biased. Folks with excellent Internet connectivity
and free access to one browser might naturally gravitate to it. But I
can also report that at least one Fortune 500 company in Michigan will
be serving Netscape as part of the bundle of apps included with their
corporate tools (also including Microsoft Office).  They bought a
site license for the Netscape Navigator as their standard browser.
So in that case virtually 100% of several thousand users will run
Netscape.  I'm sure there are many other corporations who will jump
on the bandwagon as well.

So, from all evidence I've seen, it is indeed fair to conclude that the
Netscape Navigator is the dominant browser out there today.

But:

1) This does not mean that a given Web publisher or author should
thus cavalierly announce that non-Netscape users are not of interest.
Twenty-five percent of a large number is still a large number.

2) As mass-market utilities come on stream with their own Web browsers
and with massive caching proxy services, statistics reported by server
administrators will become increasingly more suspect. If 500,000 AOL
users visit the White House home page, the server admin will see only
one transaction that appears to come from users of the AOL browser --
the cache will mask the other users' transactions.

/Rich Wiggins
Author, _The Internet for Everyone: A Guide for Users & Providers_
Received on Wednesday, 2 August 1995 17:38:06 GMT

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