Mobile web browsing mysteriously slips again

For the second month in a row, mobile browsing falls as percentage of total web surfing

Once it's an anomaly. Twice it's worth watching. Three times it's a trend.

We haven't reached "trend" status yet, but for the second consecutive month, mobile web browsing has dropped as a percentage of overall web surfing, according to analytics firm Net Applications.

In October, mobile web browsing slipped to 5.51% of total web browsing, down from 5.95% in September, while desktop browsing as a percentage of total web surfing increased to 94.17% from 93.66% in September.

Last month's mobile browsing percentage was lower than August's 6.35%.

The two-month decline follows two years of mobile browsing growing steadily as a percentage of total web browsing, climbing from just over 1% in October 2009 to its peak in August, based on Net Applications stats. (The company relies on data from its partner network, which receives about 160 million PVs a month, as well as search engine referrals.)

What's going on here? As I mentioned when I wrote about this a month ago, there are more smartphones and tablets being used to access the Internet every week. We're at the beginning of a mobile revolution and desktop sales are down.

It's possible that the global BlackBerry network outage in October affected mobile browsing. But the truth is that Research in Motion's mobile OS has a negligible share of the mobile browsing market, and that share declined to 2.48% in October from 3.29% in September. But how much of that decline is due to BlackBerry users switching to other OSes?

Speaking of other mobile operating systems, the release of Apple's iPhone 4S appears to have boosted the percentage of mobile browsing from iOS to 61.64% in October from 54.65% in September. (Android's share also increased last month to 18.9% from 16.26% in September.)

And yet, despite the record-breaking early sales of the iPhone 4S, mobile browsing as a percentage of total web surfing fell in October. It's a mystery to me.

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