According to web metric firm Net Applications, iOS (s aapl) has passed Linux for third place in worldwide OS market share as measured by web browsing.
Net Applications derives web browsing market share from some 160 million visitors to its network of sites, and Microsoft (s msft) Windows is being run by more than 90 percent of those visitors. Even so, this is still an achievement for iOS. A little over three years after the first “iPhone OS” device went on sale, iOS has 1.13 percent share worldwide, compared to 0.85 percent share for Linux.
In the same time frame, OS X has increased from 3 percent to around 5 percent, but has been stuck at around 5 percent share for a year. That’s because market share, as measured by web browsing, is still tied to market share by unit sales. While Mac sales continue trending upward, from around 11 million Macs sold in 2009 to between 12 and 15 million in 2010, that’s nothing compared to iOS device sales.
Apple will sell at least 50 million iOS devices in 2010, and web usage share is tracking right along with those sales. The iPhone itself is now at 0.73 percent and will likely pass both Linux and Java ME, Java (s orcl) for mobile systems, sometime next year. The iPod touch is now at 0.13 percent, up again, and the iPad now has double that, 0.27 percent, just four months after launch.
The future is bright for iOS, but it’s probably brighter for Android.
Android is already outselling the iPhone in unit sales with Google (s goog) claiming a daily average for activations that works out to between 15 an 20 million devices per quarter, double the iPhone. Web share will almost certainly follow in the future, but it matters right now.
Apple’s war with Adobe (s adbe) over Flash is predicated upon the popularity of iOS devices encouraging content producers to use Flash alternatives. Android runs Flash, admittedly terribly, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is Android will be running on a plurality, if not majority, of mobile devices in the medium-term future. Even if Apple continues to embargo Flash, content producers will be less likely to abandon Flash in an Android world.
Today, iOS trumps Linux. Tomorrow, it will be Android over iOS, with Adobe Flash along for the ride.
Related GigaOM Pro Research: Who Owns Android’s Future? Google — Or Apple?