Apple's iOS mobile operating system is now the third-most popular platform on the Internet, with a share nearly six times larger than Android's, a Web measurement company said Wednesday.
Collectively the devices that run iOS -- the iPhone, the iPod Touch and the iPad -- accounted for 1.1% of all hardware on the Internet last month, more than enough to shove Linux off its perch as the third-place operating system on the Web.
For the month of August, Linux fell to a 0.85% share, the third month in a row that the open-source operating system lost ground. Windows and Apple's Mac OS were the No. 1 and No. 2 operating systems on the Web, with 91.3% and 5%, respectively.
"It's something to take note of when a mobile operating system passes something that's been around forever," said Vince Vizzaccaro, a Net Applications vice president, talking about iOS overtaking Linux. "Mobile's growth curve is strong, and mobile is becoming quite a phenomenon on the Internet."
Net Applications' numbers don't reflect devices sold or operating systems licensed or installed, but they do show how much browsing people do using specific hardware and operating systems. And clearly, mobile users take to the Web.
"When you combine all the different devices, mobile has a 2.6% share," said Vizzaccaro. "That's massive when you think about it."
Android devices made up just 0.2% of the operating systems that powered browsers Net Applications tracked last month. "Whatever the sales are, we're seeing iOS totally dominate the market on the Web," Vizzaccaro said. "iOS has nearly a 6:1 advantage over Android."
Competing sales claims are nothing new to the battle between Apple and Google for the hearts and minds of smartphone users. According to Gartner, 10.6 million Android-based smartphones sold in the second quarter, which ended June 30, compared to 8.7 million iPhones, putting Apple's offering in fourth place worldwide behind Symbian, Research In Motion (RIM) and Android devices.
But the iPhone isn't the only device that runs iOS. In the same second quarter, Apple sold 3.3 million iPads and an unknown number of iPod Touches among the 9.4 million iPods sold during that period.
Apple doesn't break out iPod Touch sales from its all-iPod quarterly sales figures, but Touch sales have been brisk according to Apple. During the launch of a revamped iPod lineup earlier Wednesday in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the Touch was the best-selling of the four models: Shuffle, Nano, Touch and Classic.
Jobs also said that Apple has sold 120 million iOS-running devices since the original iPhone appeared in June 2007 and is activating approximately 230,000 iOS devices daily.
"People are throwing around a lot of numbers as to how many of their OSs they're activating per day," said Jobs. "We're activating 230,000 iOS devices a day. We think we're ahead of everybody."
Net Applications calculates usage share using data acquired from the 160 million unique visitors who browse the 40,000 Web sites it monitors for clients.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.