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Mobile Browser Usage Trends - Apple vs. Android

The smartphone market is a two-horse race between two of the biggest names in technology - Apple (iOS) and Google (Android). One way to track their relative operating system market penetration is via mobile browser usage.

Despite Android's tremendous operating system market share (81.5 percent in 2014, according to IDC), Apple cemented its leadership in mobile browser usage in the third quarter of 2014. To measure browser usage, Akamai tracked the number of cellular specific and total network connections from Apple's default iOS web browser, mobile Safari, and Android's stock Webkit browser.

Cellular connections

At the start of the third quarter, there was a mere 5 percent gap between Apple's mobile Safari and Android's Webkit browser. However, this gap grew throughout the quarter. Moving into September, Safari's lead grew to roughly 10 percent. As the quarter came to a close, Safari's lead grew to a 12 percent. Across the entire quarter, Apple's mobile Safari averaged 39 percent of cellular requests, while Android Webkit averaged 31 percent of cellular requests.

All network connections

Looking across all network connections (not just those defined as cellular) at the beginning of the quarter, mobile Safari traffic accounted for roughly 50 percent of requests, while Android Webkit topped out at just under 30 percent of requests. Much like the cellular connection traffic, the gap widened throughout the quarter. By the end of the third quarter, Safari drove over 50 percent of requests, while Android Webkit drove just under 28 percent of requests. Across the whole of the third quarter mobile Safari accounted for 50.4 percent of requests, while Android Webkit accounted for 29.8 percent of requests.

Going forward, the fourth quarter State of the Internet Report will include data from both Webkit and Chrome web browsers in the Android figures. For those devices shipping with Android 4.4 KitKat and above (5.0 Lollipop), Chrome for Android ships as the default web browser, replacing the previous stock Webkit browser.

For the full report and more on mobile connectivity across the world, check out the full Third Quarter, 2014 State of the Internet Report.