Mobile's browser usage share jumps 26% in three months
Safari is the biggest beneficiary, making Apple's browser punch over its desktop weight
Computerworld - Mobile-based browsing has tripled in the last two years, and is making significant inroads on traditional Internet access from personal computers, according to statistics from a Web metrics company.
Mobile's gains are in part a side effect of a global slump in personal computer sales as customers instead purchase smartphone and tablets, and as a result, increasingly shift their time-spent-online from PCs to mobile. Last month, mobile browser usage -- a combination of browsing from smartphones and tablets -- surged by 1.4 percentage points to account for 13.2% of all unique visitors to the 40,000 websites that California-based Net Applications monitors for clients.
February's jump was atop a one percentage point increase in January and a half-point gain in December. In the last three months, mobile browser usage has climbed 2.8 percentage points, representing a 26% upswing since Nov. 2012.
The longer trends are even more impressive: In the last 12 months, mobile browser usage has nearly doubled, and in the past 24 months has more than tripled.
Gains on the part of mobile have come at the expense of what Net Applications defines as "desktop," a category that includes both desktop and notebook PCs, primary powered by Microsoft's Windows, and Macs running Apple's OS X. Desktop browser usage dropped 3.1 percentage points in the last three months, and fell 6.3 points in the last 12.
For February, desktop browser use averaged 86.2%, down from 92.5% a year earlier. In September 2009, when Computerworld began tracking mobile browser usage -- seven months before Apple started selling its first iPad -- desktop owned 98.9% of the usage total.
Browser makers have not missed that trend, and in fact began emphasizing mobile long before its share doubled in 2012-2013.
Mozilla, the open-source developer of Firefox, took the bold step of building a mobile operating system based on that browser. Google, which has long relied on a basic browser for its Android operating system, ported Chrome to the platform and pinned its future in mobile on that browser.
Microsoft, with its two-pronged strategy of pushing both Windows 8 and Windows RT into mobile, created the tablet- and touch-centric Internet Explorer 10 (IE10). Google also quick-kicked Chrome into Windows 8's "Modern" user interface (UI) and slapped together one for iOS as well. Mozilla is working on a Firefox for Modern, too.
But the browser that's profited the most from the rise in mobile browser usage has been Apple's Safari.
Safari, the default browser on all iOS devices -- and untouchable unless Apple relents on rules that bar rivals from the App Store or at least cripple those that are accepted -- accounted for 55.4% of all mobile browser used in February, leading the Android browser (with 22.8%) and Opera Software's Opera Mini (12.7%), and far, far ahead of Chrome (2%) and IE (1.6%).
Apple's mobile dominance -- Safari is used twice as much as the Android browser, even though Android smartphones and tablets outsell iOS devices by wide margins -- gave it a combined desktop-mobile share of 12% of all browser usage last month. Google's various desktop and mobile browsers, meanwhile, accounted for 17.3% of all usage, while Microsoft and Mozilla, neither with appreciable mobile share, ended February with 48.3% and 17.3%, respectively.
In plainer words, Apple's browser share of 12% is much closer to both Google's and Mozilla's than the desktop-only numbers indicate.
And the likely growth of mobile browser usage will only be good news for Apple, assuming Safari maintains its supremacy. If mobile continues to gain ground by its 12-month average, it will assume 20% of all browsing by April 2014; if the faster-paced average of the last three months continues, mobile should reach the 20% mark in Sept. 2013.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Google reverses field, promises to restore Chrome's scrollbar arrows
- Update: Google ships Chrome 33, patches 28 bugs
- Mozilla's top exec defends in-Firefox ads, revenue search
- Mozilla taps in-Firefox ads as it searches for more revenue
- Mozilla ships Metro Firefox beta for Windows 8
- Mozilla defers Firefox's new 'Australis' UI to April
- Mozilla resets Metro Firefox ship date to mid-March
- Mozilla ships Firefox 26 with opening click-to-play move
- Mozilla banked $274M in '12 from Google-Firefox search deal
- Google trumpets Chrome's SPDY gains
Read more about Internet in Computerworld's Internet Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- IDC Report: The Future of eMail is Social This paper discusses the changing nature of collaboration and work fueled by the social Web by examining current email trends and the emergence...
- The Business of Social Business Social business represents a significant transformational opportunity for organizations. Read this whitepaper to learn more.
- Six Ways Your Small Business Can Save with Internet Phone Service Traditional phone systems present two main problems for businesses: limited features and high costs. As a result, small businesses are migrating to Internet...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Supercharge Your Web and Mobile App Development with High-Productivity Hybrid Cloud Webinar: Hear from industry experts about the amazing power at the intersection of next-generation web and mobile application development and cloud platforms.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Internet White Papers | Webcasts