FORTUNE – There was a time when web browsers duked it out for dominance on the desktop. But with users consuming information more and more on smartphones, tablets, and newer form factors like "phablets," the battleground has shifted to mobile. Who's winning?
As recently as June 2012, the competition was in a dead heat: Android led with nearly 22%, followed by Opera at 22%, then Safari on iOS with 21% according to StatCounter. Google's (GOOG) Android has cemented a solid lead since then with 31%, iOS at 24%, and Opera trailing with 15%.
That shouldn't come as a surprise, given the proliferation of Android devices. According to the analytics firm IDC, Android phone makers shipped 162 million devices during the first quarter of 2013; Apple (AAPL) shipped 37 million. (And in case you're curious, Windows Phone came third, with 7 million.)
RockMelt, a desktop-focused web browser that launched in late 2010, recently announced it was changing course. In the two-and-a-half years since launch, the innovative browser which integrated social network and RSS feed integration right into the browser window, only signed up 4.5 million users. Like it or not, the desktop market is a landscape ruled with a virtual iron fist by the likes of Microsoft (MSFT) Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. "Browsers today are just big dumb windows in [consumers'] way," Rockmelt co-founder and CTO Tim Howes told The Wall Street Journal recently. Rockmelt recently announced Rockmelt for Web, a content aggregator any Internet user with a browser can access.
On iOS, there's no shortage of Web browsers to choose, from Opera to the lesser-known Atomic Web Browser, all of which try to put their own spin on mobile Internet browsing to stand out: features like accelerated Web site loading, different ways to juggle Windows, bookmark syncing, among others.
But there's a problem for third-party developers. Much like Internet Explorer is the pre-loaded browser on Microsoft Windows, Android is the default browser on the Android operating system, as Safari is on iOS. Which is why, according to StatCounter, such offerings are at a distant fourth place right now. "The thing is, Safari and Android are default recipients of your link, and what's going to overcome that?" explains Forrester analyst Charles Golvin. You can download other browsers, but there isn't a setting like on the PC that makes a browser like Firefox or Google Chrome the go-to browser. "Until that's the case, we're not going to get as much real competition."
Still, companies like Maxthon, which The Journal reports has 120 million users, is pushing forward with its own desktop, mobile, and in-car browser offerings, which includes a deal this year with Pioneer Electronics where drivers and passengers can surf the web via touch-screen device.
Translation: The browser war is far from dead. They're just more cross-platform than ever.
How fast is fast?
Chrome's "canary" build -- the least stable and most advanced version of the browser -- was 40.5% faster than the "dev" edition and 43.5% faster than the current "stable" version.
It also MORESeth Weintraub - Dec 8, 2010 6:03 PM ET
ChromeOS is weaponized for business with Citrix, and encrypted storage.
Last week, Google (GOOG) Engineer Linus Upson made a stir when he said that ChromeOS computers could replace 60% of corporate Windows desktops out there at launch. The assertion at the time may have sounded pretty outlandish. But Google has a few secret weapons at its disposal.
Today, Citrix (CTSX) got on board with Google's ChromeOS. When Notebooks running ChomeOS launch in MORESeth Weintraub - Dec 7, 2010 11:08 PM ET
Microsoft's Internet Explorer dips below 50% of the browser market for the first time since the late 90s.
Google's (GOOG) Chrome browser continues to increase its market share at an impressive rate, more than tripling from 3.69% September 2009 to 11.54% September 2010, according to browser analytics firm Statcounter.
A year ago it was a three-horse race between Apple's (AAPL) Safari, Opera and Google's Chrome for third place behind Firefox and IE. MORESeth Weintraub - Oct 5, 2010 11:21 AM ET
Google's monetary exchange service, temporary sidelined, is poised to make a comeback as the exchange for the Chrome Web Store.
Google's Chrome project(s) are about getting people to do things on the web in a browser (as opposed to say an app). One of the bigger aspects of this strategy is Google's intent to create a kind of App Store for Web developers, which allows them to both make some money MORESeth Weintraub - Sep 24, 2010 12:29 AM ET
A round-up of the companies, deals, and trends that made headlines.
Every day, the Fortune staff spends hours poring over tech stories, posts, and reviews from all over the Web to keep tabs on the companies that matter. We've assembled the morning's most newsworthy bits below.Microsoft (MSFT) and Facebook are in talks to expand their search partnership, which could give Bing access to anonymized data from consumer usage of the social network's MORE JP Mangalindan, Writer - Sep 16, 2010 8:18 AM ET
Google is phasing out its use of Microsoft's Windows on desktops, citing security concerns stemming from the recent Chinese hacking incident
It must be nice to be a Google employee. You get to work with the smartest engineers out there. You get gourmet cafeteria food and all kinds of amenities. But best of all, you aren't given some generic, locked-down PC that you aren't familiar with. You get to pick what platform you MORESeth Weintraub - May 31, 2010 10:30 PM ET
Palm demonstrated some software based on HTML5 today, not that Chrome was coming to webOS, as previously speculated.
Breakfast is being served and the show is about to begin. Here's a quick clip of the show floor with an unlikely guest.
Palm. With a little Chrome Browser icon below their display.
Though it was easy to assume that they'd be utilizing the Chrome Browser, it turns out they have a software wing and MORESeth Weintraub - May 19, 2010 11:20 AM ET
Verizon Wireless Chief Executive Lowell McAdam confirmed today that they were working with Google to build a competitor to the iPad.
McAdam, in an interview with the WSJ, said that tablets are part of the "next big wave of opportunities," and that "work on a tablet is part of a deepening relationship between the largest U.S. wireless carrier and Google."
It isn't certain whether the tablets would be based on Google's ChromeOS MORESeth Weintraub - May 11, 2010 5:40 PM ET
Google has put together a montage of fun video on how fast the Chrome browser is.
As mentioned yesterday, Google Chrome is fast. The unusual similes are visually provided below.
[via Google's Chrome Blog]Seth Weintraub - May 5, 2010 12:22 PM ET
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