Google’s mobile and desktop web browsers had their best performance ever in December, NetApplications says in its latest study. Although Android still trails the iPhone in absolute share of the web with just 0.05 percent versus Apple’s 0.44 percent, it grew a much faster 54.8 percent versus just 20.1 percent for Apple’s platform. The BlackBerry too had a better month at 22.2 percent growth while the only major platforms below them are Symbian (19 percent growth) and Java ME (15.6 percent).
The holiday month also represented a major if symbolic victory for Chrome, which for the first time in the analysis has overtaken Safari for share on the web. The browser jumped exactly 0.7 points to 4.63 percent, or enough to pass Apple; even though it continued to grow, Safari grew only modestly versus November and topped out at 4.46 percent. Firefox saw a rare decline in use to 24.61 percent, while Internet Explorer continued its long descent and reached 62.69 percent.
While the rise of Chrome is explained through both the launch of Chrome for Mac in beta form as well as extensions becoming available for Windows, Android’s efforts are more complex. It was helped both by a wider overall shift to mobile as well as the launch of key phones like the Motorola Droid that have fueled Android market share with runaway sales.
Proof of the downturn for desktop browsing comes through desktop operating system share. Despite sustained availability of Windows 7, Microsoft’s combined OS share dropped to 92.21 percent while the Mac dropped a hundredth of a point to 92.11 percent. Linux was the only desktop platform to see a gain as it edged forward slightly to 1.02 percent. The iPod touch is broken out separately from iPhone share and claims 0.09 percent.