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.
Google's mobile operating system may be getting a boost from -- of all places -- Blackberry.
FORTUNE -- This week's Google I/O conference in San Francisco was disappointingly light on Android news. And it was especially light on new, enterprise-friendly features for Android devices. Instead, it showed improvements aimed at consumers and education institutions. But while Google may not seem focused on making its mobile operating system more attractive to IT departments, MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - May 17, 2013 9:23 AM ET
But if downloads accelerate, the odometer could roll over before midnight Tuesday.
FORTUNE --Apple (AAPL) loves those big numbers with a lot of zeros, and for the past week the company has been promoting -- with prizes, cool facts and a countdown odometer -- another fast-approaching milestone: The 50 billionth app download.
Hard to believe it's been only 15 months since the last one.
1 billion: April 2009
10 billion: January 2011
25 billion: February MORE
Apple's iOS is down 6.6%, but the iPhone and iPad still account for 59% of Web usage.
FORTUNE -- Netapplications' April report, released Wednesday, shows Android's share of Web traffic recovering from its November pause and picking up its slow but steady growth.
Google's (GOOG) mobile operating platform now accounts for 26% of Web usage -- up 35% year over year -- as measured by visits to the sites of Netapplication's 40,000 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 1, 2013 10:48 AM ET
The Siri rival from the search giant is available for Apple's iOS devices.
By Matt Vella, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Google Now, arguably the search giant's most promising mobile feature, is now available on Apple's iOS platform. An update to the Google Search app for Apple iPhones and iPads includes features found on the company's own Android operating system.
What's Google Now? Somewhat similar to Siri, the software is a digital personal assistant MOREApr 29, 2013 1:04 PM ET
Five years ago, Apple ran out of seats in two months. This year: 90 seconds.
FORTUNE -- How badly do developers want to write software for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and Mac App Stores? Here's one measure: In 2008 it took 61 days for the company's annual World Wide Developers Conference to sell out. On Thursday, roughly 5,000 tickets for WWDC 2013 went on sale at 1 p.m. EST. Ninety seconds later, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 25, 2013 2:55 PM ET
Should we be worried about industries that deploy malware-friendly Android devices?
FORTUNE -- As a long-time Apple (AAPL) user who doesn't spend much time worrying about viruses, trojans and other malware, I've never had a lot of confidence in the reports issued periodically by computer security companies. They always seemed to be in the protection racket, trying to scare users into buying their anti-viral software.
But a pair of recent reports got me MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 14, 2013 7:49 AM ET
With the 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega, has Samsung reached the smartphone's limit?
FORTUNE -- At 9:36 a.m. Thursday, shortly after Samsung introduced the newest entries in its Galaxy smartphone line -- the 5.8-inch Mega and the 6.3-inch Mega -- Derek Kessler posted what may be the most viral tweet that wasn't about TV, celebrity, politics, sports, dieting, mysticism or a natural disaster.
It was a simple list of Samsung's Android screen sizes.
According to MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 12, 2013 7:00 AM ET
As Apple prepares iOS 7, it could stand to learn a few things from Facebook Home.
FORTUNE -- Now we know: The Facebook Phone is neither a phone, nor an operating system. Instead, Zuckerberg unveiled a downloadable collection of apps, available April 12, that will be supported on select Android phones to start, including the $99 HTC First, the first device to come pre-loaded with it. Home, as the whole kit MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Apr 5, 2013 6:42 AM ET
Only 31 minutes is spent surfing the Web. Apps take up the rest of that time.
FORTUNE -- The iPhone was barely a year old and Apple (AAPL) had not yet launched the App Store when Flurry Analytics began measuring mobile usage and helping developers sell ads.
Today Flurry measures the activity of more than 1 billion active mobile iOS and Android devices a month, and to celebrate its fifth anniversary Wednesday MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 3, 2013 7:28 PM ET
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