~12 Million Google Earth downloads? Where’s Mac/Linux Versions?

As a new kind of browser, Google Earth has certainly set some records in terms of growth. Unfortunately, Google isn’t releasing any numbers. Several people have speculated based on the statistics at the Google Earth Community Forums. Right now there are:

  • 164,467 total registered users
  • 102 registered online
  • 1683 unregistered online

Typically, there are 15 to 20 times the registered viewers in the forums who are unregistered. From this, we can estimate there are conservatively 15X the registered users who use the forums. This equates to 2,467,005 forum users. But, one can assume there are many people who don’t even use the forums. Let’s say there are only 5X the forum users who have downloaded Google Earth: that leaves us with a guess at more than 12 Million Google Earth downloads. GE has been out as a beta since June. How long did it take Firefox to get to greater than 10 Million? Is this 12 million user guess reasonable?

Google hasn’t released a Mac Version or a Linux Version. I think this is a mistake. People who use the Mac are very visually oriented, and GE is certainly a very visual program. I would bet the percentage of Mac people who would use GE would be way higher than the equivalent on Windows. Linux is definitely a favorite for the technically oriented. My guess is pretty much every Linux user with a decent graphics card and running a compatible windows system would run GE.
When Mosaic became popular, it was available on several versions of Unix. Every browser since has been released on several OSes. It would be a shame if Google didn’t continue this tradition with their Earth browser. We may not know how many people are using it right now. But, it is certainly already one of the most popular programs in use today. It would gain a lot of credibility and increase its growth if it was available on the most popular alternative OSes.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Having planned vacation based upon Google Earth we hope they will continue to add details to the areas not yet refined.

  2. What I find equally amazing is that Google Earth is a high end applicatian requiring a powerful computer to work properly and a broadband connection to make viewing feasible. A lot of people out there dont have the computering power to use GE. In a few years as more people buy newer more powerful computers and GE maintains its high popularity how high will the usage figures go?

  3. Actually, I’ve been reading GE can be used on a wider range of computers than is recommended, and can even be used passably on lower-bandwidth than expected. Also, you can even use GE without a connection if you use your cache wisely (I have a demo this weekend without a connection).

  4. I use it on a dialup connection. It works just fine..

  5. takes about a minute to fully load 100 percent an area never seen before
    if youre pateient, itll do just fine on dialup
    HOWEVER, if you have a bad computer itll work but the experience is horrible (laggy a bit)
    bad computer meaning RAM and processor and g card

  6. If you have dial up, for $20 you get the “+” version, where you can quickly draw a path, a search pattern if you will over an area of interest, maybe like Manhattan, and then have your PC run a nice slow tour on that path (while you are e.g. at lunch). This will load the area in the cache, then you can just putz around the area as you want, without delays.

  7. it doesnt matter u can do that in the free version too by putting placemarks on the areas and putting the settings on slow

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