Browser Wars!! Everyone likes a shootout between the best of the best. It’s time to line up all the Mac browsers that matter and see which one can score the most points.
Mac360 tracks over one dozen Mac browsers to visit our boutique site of app reviews and commentary. Which Mac browser has the speed, looks, features, dependability, stability, and usefulness to become the last browser standing?
Browser Contender Corner
Mac360 has over 160,000 visitors each month and tracks statistics on a few dozen browsers but 98-percent of all visitors use just nine browsers.
For my shootout, I’ll discard Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (multiple versions) which garners about 8-percent of all visitors.
Why? It’s a Mac browser shootout, so Windows browsers don’t count. In my For What It’s Worth category, IE 8.x has about half of all Windows browser users, IE 7.x, has 40-percent, and IE 6.x and older versions account for the rest.
For the eight remaining Mac browsers I’ll provide a personal and subjective review of specific categories and score a winner for each. The winner gets eight points, second place gets 7 points, and so on, to the browser in last place for each category—only one point.
The Mac browser list includes, Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Camino, Opera, Flock, and iCab. The Mac versions of these browsers fall within the Top 12 of all browsers used to visit Mac360.
1 – Speed Kills Slowly
Winner – Google Chrome (8 points), Apple Safari (7), Opera (6), Firefox (5), Camino (4), Flock (3), SeaMonkey (2), and iCab (1).
It was close between the top three, close between the Mozilla versions, and iCab was a speed afterthought. Other browser makers should look closely at whatever Google is doing. Chrome is fast.
2 – Mac-like Interface
Which of the main Mac browsers looks and feels like a Mac app? Again, the perspective is subjective, but the results are difficult to argue against.
Some browsers look more like their Windows PC counterparts, therefore appear and behave like a Windows browser.
Winner – Apple Safari (8 points), Camino (7), Opera (6), iCab (5), Firefox (4), Flock (3), SeaMonkey (2), and Chrome (1).
Apple knows what Mac users like to use. Safari tops our user list with almost 60-percent. Mac users like Camino for elegance and simplicity as well as the Mac-like feel, but Camino gets used by less than 1-percent of our readers.
3 – Feature Fanatics
Which Mac browser is loaded with features (not add ons)? Typically, Mac users are not attracted to a list of features in a browser, but more than basics can be advantageous to many users. Features include bookmarks, archiving, customizing the toolbar, RSS reader, preferences, and more.
Winner – SeaMonkey (8 points), Flock (7), Opera (6), Firefox (5), Safari (4), iCab (3), Camino (2) and Chrome (1).
Have you checked all that SeaMonkey can do? Email, HTML editor, news, plus the Firefox rendering engine under the hood. Flock, also built on Firefox, is a close second for the plethora of social networking features not found in other browsers.
4 – Extend My Extensions, Please
This is almost no contest since Mozilla’s browsers, except for Camino, can use most of the huge Firefox Add On library of extensions.
Winner – Firefox (8 points), SeaMonkey (7), Flock (6), Chrome (5), Opera (4), Safari (3), Camino (2), and iCab (1).
The Mozilla browsers not only have features, they can be extended to have even more features. Of course, it doesn’t take much for Firefox (as my example) to begin looking like the medals on a general’s uniform, and all those add on options can have an impact on my next category.
5 – Stability & Dependability
No one likes a browser to crash, or to become bogged down and perform slowly. All the top Mac browsers feature more stability and are more reliable now than ever. Adobe’s Flash plugin can cause problems, and, apparently not equitably for each browser.
Winner – Chrome (8) points, Safari (7), Firefox (6), SeaMonkey (5), Opera (4), Flock (3), Camino (2), and iCab (1).
6 – Page Rendering
With Microsoft’s Internet Explorer out of the picture, all the Mac browsers did a decent job of rendering my five test web pages (including Mac360, which was the primary comparison since we know what we want the site to look like).
Interestingly, both Safari and Chrome use the same rendering engine so you’d expect pages viewed in a browser window to be similar. They are. Firefox, SeaMonkey, Flock, and Camino use Mozilla’s rendering engine, and, likewise, pages looked almost identical in each.
Winner – Safari (8 points), Chrome (7), Firefox (6), SeaMonkey (5), Camino (4), Flock (3), Opera (2), iCab (1).
Safari renders pages beautifully, as does Chrome. Some quirks appear here and there in Mozilla’s line, more quirks in Opera.
The Results, Please
My six main categories were weighted the same. For some users, a Mac-like interface is more important. For others, all those Mozilla add-ons take the prize. For other Mac browser users stability might be on top. Still others may prefer raw speed.
Whatever category suits your needs most, there’s a good Mac browser on the list.
Regardless, no Shootout is worthy without some math. Eight points for each winner in each category. Yes, I could also add an extra point or two for each winner in each category, or a point for the runner up in each category, but the results end up about the same.
The Loser—Yes, friends, iCab came in last. It’s not a bad browser. It’s just not a good browser. If there’s a reason for being, I don’t know what it is.
Honorable Mention—Google’s Chrome browser is the fastest growing Mac browser, now representing almost the same percentage of visitors to Mac360 as all versions of Internet Explorer, and over seven times the usage of Camino or Opera. Chrome is fast, simple but not elegant, very stable, and has a growing list of extensions (though they appear to be less capable than the extensions for Firefox).
Runner Up—Mozilla’s Firefox is a close second to the winner, never finishing low, and seldom high, but in high use among Mac360’s readers (Mac or Windows), taking over 25-percent of browser usage.
The Winner—Apple’s Safari takes the prize. It’s elegant, easy to use, more stable than ever, renders web pages beautifully, and it’s fast. If Apple added an extension capability then Safari would be even better.
It’s all math (except for the subjective results in each category, of course). Apple’s Safari is the winner at 37 points, Mozilla’s Firefox a close second at 34 points, and Google’s Chrome comes in third at 30 points. Interestingly, that’s exactly the order of usage for Mac360’s readers: 1, 2, 3. Why isn’t Opera used by more Mac users? It’s quirky. Less than 1-percent of our visitors choose Opera. What’s your favorite browser and why?