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.
But Android is still catching up, according to Net Applications
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) iOS operating system dominated the mobile Internet this summer, according to Net Applications, hitting a record 65.9% share of smartphone and tablet Web traffic in August.
But as iPhone sales tailed off in anticipation of a new model and sales of Google (GOOG) Android systems took off -- particularly with the launch of Samsung's Galaxy SIII -- Android's Web share MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 1, 2012 12:13 PM ET
StatCounter's number is lower, but shows Apple's mobile share surging 33.6% since July
The presence of Apple's (AAPL) mobile devices on the Web surged this summer and early fall according to Net Applications and StatCounter, two leading mobile analytics services, although the two firms draw very different conclusions about where that leaves competing platforms.
Net Applications, which monitors hits on its 40,000 client sites and weighs the results based on population statistics, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 1, 2011 7:59 AM ET
A curated selection of the day's most newsworthy tech stories from all over the Web. Sign up to get the newsletter delivered to you everyday.The Telegraph reports that Steve Jobs was reportedly blocked from knighthood because the Apple CEO refused an invitation to speak at the Labour Party conference. (Other notable honorary knights include Bill Gates and Apple collaborate-U2 frontman Bono.) The info comes from a former senior Labour Party MORE JP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 2, 2011 5:00 AM ET
At least in the U.S., according to StatCounter. Worldwide, Nokia's Symbian still rules
When Apple (AAPL) introduced the iPhone, it awakened a sleeping giant in Canada, forcing Research in Motion (RIMM) to improve the experience of browsing the Web on a BlackBerry.
Those efforts have finally paid off. According to a report issued Wednesday by the Web analytics firm StatCounter, the BlackBerry OS has now overtaken Apple's iOS in terms of mobile MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 1, 2010 6:47 AM ET
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