Ready for a whole new set of browser wars? Not content to keep the web browser battle to the desktop space, Google's native Android browser, uh, "Browser", is now beating the long-standing Opera Mini for worldwide mobile browser market share. However, both are still far, far behind Safari, which commands over half of the market as of October 2011.
And iOS Safari is still rising: it gained another six and a half percent to take 62.2 percent of all mobile device browsing in October. That includes all browsing from iPhones, iPods and iPads. Android's browser now stands at 18.7 percent, while Opera Mini dropped almost a third of its total user share down to just 13.1 percent. And in case you're wondering, no, that doesn't include the more powerful Opera Mobile, though Opera Mini runs on Android, iOS, Blackberry, Symbian and Java-powered phones.
The numbers aren't all that surprising, considering that Opera isn't installed by default on any smartphones. But of the leading mobile web browsers, it's been around the longest: the initial Java version came out in 2005, a full two years before the iPhone and its mobile browser hit the market, and three years before Android. It's also got a lot more features than either of the big players, though like its desktop cousin, rendering issues still put some sites off-limits.
It'll be interesting to see how the mobile browser market shifts once Google Chrome comes to Android, in fact if not in name - many of the additions to the stock browser in Ice Cream Sandwich are already shared with Chrome, and the desktop version now commands an impressive 17.6 percent of the market.