Safari Loses Ground to IE in February, iPhone Dominates

Apple's Safari Web browser dipped from its all-time market share high of 8.29 percent in January to 7.42 percent in February. Even with the release of a public beta of Safari 4 for Mac and Windows, Apple's Web browser lost ground to Internet Explorer and Firefox, according to data from Market Share. In contrast, the iPhone is the dominant player in the mobile browsing market.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer reversed its steady downward spiral -- at least for one month -- to climb up to 68.17 percent of the market from January's 67.55 percent. Firefox also saw a small increase in users with its jump from 21.53 percent to 21.96 percent of the Web browser market.

January marks the first month in some time that Safari saw a noticeable dip, although that doesn't necessarily mean the browser is losing popularity. Since browser tracking tools follow activity on a subset of Web sites, the data they show is more or less indicative of overall trends. In this case, the numbers seem to indicate a growing interest in Safari and Firefox at the expense of Internet Explorer.

While Apple may not be the dominant player in the desktop browser market, it is clearly the leader in the mobile world. The iPhone held 66.61 percent of the Web surfing market, well above Java ME's 9.06 percent and Windows Mobile 6.91 percent.

Blackberry and Android appear to be the biggest threats right now to the iPhones sizable lead in the mobile browsing market. In January, RIM's Blackberry held 1.7 percent and Android controlled 5.02 percent of the market. In February, however, both climbed substantially. Blackberry jumped up to 2.24 percent, and Android hit 6.15 percent.

According to Market Share, "Although the iPhone has a commanding lead in mobile browsing share, Android and BlackBerry are rapidly gaining market share.This does not mean that iPhone web browsing is shrinking, because the overall market is growing rapidly."

Windows Mobile, however, dropped from January's 7.59 percent. Since the market is growing, the drop could indicate that Windows Mobile use isn't increasing at the same pace -- or it could be a sign that mobile surfers prefer other platforms.