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Tuesday, January 01, 2008, 09:00 pm PT (12:00 am ET)

Net stats place Mac user share at 7.3 percent in December

Apple's share of web users has topped 7 percent for the first time at the expense of Windows, according to the latest statistics from web researchers at Net Applications.

Having already reached an all-time high of 6.8 percent in November, the number of Mac visitors to Net Applications' 40,000 tracked websites has jumped substantially to 7.31 percent — a relative increase of 7.5 percent in one month.

Researchers also pointed out that traffic surged in the final two days of the year: on December 30th and 31st, Mac share edged slightly past 8 percent. Neither these nor the primary figures include Mac users visiting the pages using Windows in Boot Camp or a virtual machine, suggesting that the number of Mac owners included in the study is slightly higher.

"These numbers actually understate the market share for the Mac," Net Applications says. "We have no way of telling by how much, however."

Although it doesn't attempt to explain the spike in user share, the firm observes that Windows share has dropped during the same period. Where Microsoft's OS share accounted for 92.4 percent in November, it stands at 91.8 percent in the final month of 2007. A small portion of this may be attributable to Linux, which is the second-largest OS included in the results and which grew less than a tenth of a percentage point in the two-month interval.

The surprise contribution to the shift in balance is the iPhone, Net Applications adds. While small, the iPhone's web share shows "spectacular" growth from 0.09 percent to 0.12 percent of all visits. This gain is the largest since the Internet analysts began tracking statistics for the Apple cellphone in July.

As with the Mac, iPhone user demographics climbed sharply at the very end of December. At 0.17 percent, the handset's share on the 30th and 31st represents little of the overall share but an exceptional 89 percent gain over the November figures.

Windows Mobile and other portable operating systems did not register statistics high enough to be included in the report.