Though both companies trail front-runners Internet Explorer and Firefox by considerable margins, Google’s Chrome browser outstripped Apple’s Safari in market share for the first time, according to statistics released from Net Applications.

Chrome seems to have parlayed what experts say are its advantages in speed and simplicity into an increasingly strong market share, with Net Applications saying that 4.63 percent of web users browsed with Chrome in December of 2009. Search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners should adjust their expectations accordingly, experts say.

Rick Munarriz at the Motley Fool writes that it is surprising that Google’s browser has passed Safari in the market share standings, given that Safari enjoys numerous advantages as the browser of choice for Apple’s many gadgets, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and MacBook portable PC.

Eweek speculates that the release of Chrome for Macs could have been a critical factor in Google’s undercutting of Apple’s proprietary browser software, and that the company would like to maintain this momentum throughout 2010, during the run-up to the release of Chrome OS.