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Mobile browsing growing exponentially: Net Applications

Mobile browsing has more than doubled in the last year and now accounts for over 6% of all online activity, according to a Web statistics company.

According to the Web statistics firm, Apple’s Safari — the default browser on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — rules the usage share roost, representing 53% of the mobile browsing market.

Vince Vizzaccaro, a vice president with metrics firm Net Applications said, “Two trends are clear, phones and tablets are stealing [browsing] share from desktops at an accelerated pace.”

Users still do nearly all of the their browsing from a desktop or notebook computer, Net Applications’ numbers showed, but that’s changing: A year ago, desktop browsing controlled a 97.2% share, compared to 93.2% in August.

The other trend is Apple’s clear-cut advantage. In the last 12 months, Safari’s share has increased by 9.3 percentage points, and now owns a majority of the smartphone and tablet browsing market, Net Applications said.

But Android also gained ground in the last year, boosting its browser share to 15.7%. Google’s operating system dominates the smartphone market but badly lags behind Apple’s iOS on tablets, the firm pointed out.

The clear loser has been Opera Mini, which lost 12.5 points in the same period, reducing its share to 20.8%. The Symbian browser that runs on Nokia smartphones has also been hit by the surge in sales of iOS and Android devices and is down 3.6 percentage points in the past 12 months, and now controls just 5.8% of the market, Net Applications said.

Apple’s iPhone and iPad account for the bulk of Safari’s share, although the former — which has a nearly three-year lead on the latter — remained slightly ahead last month. According to Net Applications, 27.4% of all mobile browsing was done from an iPhone, while 22.5% was conducted on an iPad.

Net Applications just revamped the way it tracks browser use by separating smartphone and tablet online activity from that on desktops and notebooks, a change Vizzaccaro said was prompted by the rise in mobile browsing.

“Mobile is such a big deal now,” Vizzaccaro said.

Net Applications currently combines smartphone- and tablet-based browsing into a single number, but the company intends to break out tablets in the future.

Net Applications calculates browser usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 Web sites that the company monitors for clients, the company pointed out.

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