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Apple iPhone controls over 66% of all mobile web use

In its first detailed look at web market share for cellphones, a research firm has found that Apple's iPhone represents a staggering 66.61 percent of mobile traffic while its competitors have only just gained a foothold.

Net Applications' February results show the iPhone operating system having managed over nine times the usage of its next smartphone competitor, Windows Mobile, which had just 6.91 percent of the traffic measured across tens of thousands of sites.

Other smartphone platforms haven't fared any better, according to the metrics. Google's Android and Symbian were both locked in a tie for 6.15 percent. Research in Motion's email-centric BlackBerry OS was used less often at just 2.24 percent and was even outmatched by PalmOS devices, which represented 2.37 percent of cellular web use last month.

Why the particularly wide gap exists between Apple and its rivals hasn't been explained. However, the data backs up AdMob findings which showed the iPhone getting half of all US smartphone traffic and a third of smartphone use worldwide during the month before. The use has previously been credited to a spike in Apple device ownership after the holidays as well as to the relative strength of the Safari web browser.

Mobile web market share for February 2009.

Even with such a discrepancy, Net Applications noted that the achievements of Android and BlackBerry OS are significant; Android wasn't even available before October and so gained in four months the web share that took Symbian years to achieve.

The news may have to placate Apple fans given a fairly stale month in desktop-class operating systems. Windows has reclaimed a small portion of its steadily declining share and climbed a fifth of a point to 88.42 percent, while Mac OS X share has backed down from its all-time high in January to 9.61 percent.

And compared to all operating systems, the iPhone still has the same 0.48 percent of the web — making its usage still very small in comparison to that of the larger computing world.