Over the years we hear from all kinds of media, that Linux on the desktop is stuck at 1% market share. Even linux related publications carry this myth further, because they have no clue how the data is retrieved and what vital interests are behind this.
I was writing a story about the worldwide domination of the browser Chrome on Sundays, a phenomena ongoing for about 6 weeks now. So I looked into the ways how data is retrieved by the companies that offer stats for browsers, operating systems and the like. There are big 2 companies in this business. The one that sees Chrome digging fastly into IE territory on weekends is Statcounter. The other one is Net Applications and sees IE far ahead of Chrome and Linux constantly at 1% for years.
So, how do those companies retrieve their data? Statcounter says it gets the data from ~ 3 million watched websites. Net Applications uses only 40,000 Websites to brew up their graphs. How is that? Net Applications watches the pages of its customers, that pay for the service. Two of the biggest customers to Net Applications are Microsoft and Apple. Rings a bell? Customers of Net Applications are not typicaly linux-affine, hence the 1%. For Microsoft this is a perfect setting, as they get the data that fits into their marketing strategy along the lines of: Linux on the desktop is irrelevant and will fade away.
Looking for more fitting numbers, one can look at Wikimedia statistics, which has Linux by itself at 1.6 percent and, Linux kernel based systems at 4.9 percent. Statcounter sees Linux in Germany at around 2 percent and steadily growing. The only use for the Net Application numbers that i can see is, to compare them to themselves over time. Even then there is not much, that varies the 1% graph. In no way do they give the real picture on their own.