iOS began 2011 by grabbing more than half of the mobile browser market share and ended 2011 equally strong. According to mobile web browsing data from Net Applications, which counts unique visitors to its network of websites, iOS accounted for 54.07% of the mobile browser market in January 2011 and dropped slightly to 52.10% by the end of the year.
The mobile platform stayed mostly steady in the intervening months, but there were a few fluctuations. Market share climbed to 61.50% in October 2011, presumably fueled by the launch of the iPhone 4S, and fell as low as 46.57% in February 2011. This dip might be the result of the iPad 2. Some original iPad owners may have sold their tablet in anticipation of the iPad 2, which was unveiled in early March.
Among its competitors, Android climbed from 12.75% to 16.29%, while Symbian fell from 7.40% to 5.76%. Other platforms remained about the same with only minor changes in market share.
These figures are interesting because they don’t fit in with other metrics that show Android is the leading mobile OS. When you look at activations and handset sales, there are more Android handsets being sold than Apple iPhones. Consequently, you would expect Android to have a larger market share than it does. So why the discrepancy?
This difference is likely the result of mobile Safari which, in my opinion, offers a better browsing experience than Android. Mobile Safari is an excellent browser, which was made even better now that it supports tabs on the iPad. Safari for iOS also loads pages quickly and is very responsive to multitouch gestures like pinch to zoom.
Though Android’s mobile browser is decent, it just isnt as smooth or polished as iOS. Scrolling can be choppy, copying text from pages is clunky and Adobe Flash seems to slow things down. It’s a capable browser that’ll serve up information, but it doesn’t have the same enjoyable experience as iOS.