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11 million Safari downloads? Um. Sort of

Apple is no stranger to hyperbole. In fact, they sort of reinvented it, and regularly take it to new levels. The week of WWDC, you might normally expect the hyperbole to have burned out by the time Bertrand "Grima Wormtongue" Serlet disappeared from the Moscone stage in a swirl of smoke and sulfer. (See how easy that is?) But it didn't. Today, Apple announced the following dubious milestone:

Safari 4 Downloads Top 11 Million in Three Days

Apple today announced that more than 11 million copies of Safari 4 have been downloaded in the first three days of its release, including more than six million downloads of Safari for Windows.

The rest of the press release is pointless PR fluff, so let's just focus on the central claim. 11 million downloads, of a barely-used browser. In just three days. I mean, my God. Did Apple just do something incredible here?

No. Apple is making lemonade. And that's amply explained by Robert "about to be mail-bombed" Strohmeyer over at PC World.

As someone with three Macs at home, I couldn't help but notice that Apple pushed Safari 4 out as an automatic update to all of its users this week. Yesterday, all three of the Macs in my household received the update, and we don't even use Safari.

An informal poll of my friends and colleagues reveals a whole lot of the same. Got the update dialog, downloaded and installed it, don't intend to use it.

What is at issue is the ridiculously thin claim that the latest Safari is a wild success on the basis that Apple basically pushed it out to everyone it possibly could, whether they wanted it or not.

So there you go. And I count myself among that crowd of 11 million who downloaded it, tried it, and will never go near it again. Why would I? I have real browsers that can, among other basic activities, work in full-screen mode. You know, unlike Safari.

BTW, Apple fanatics, if you're not yet mad enough at Robert for pointing out the painful truth, be sure to read New MacBook Pro Can Boot From an SD Card. (Duh. So Can PCs.). That's another nice bit of obvious reporting that usually escapes the Apple-friendly media.

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