Opera passes iPhone to lead mobile-browser market

Customers look over an Apple iTouch at the company's retail store in San Francisco, California April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Norway’s Opera Software overtook Apple’s iPhone browser in May as the most popular mobile browser in the world, Web analytics firm StatCounter said on Tuesday.

Of all Internet pages that were downloaded to mobile devices globally in May, 24.6 percent were downloaded through Opera’s browser and 22.3 percent via iPhone, StatCounter said.

The top spot has see-sawed this year.

“Opera began the year in the number one slot but iPhone overtook it in February,” Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, said in a statement. “It will be fascinating to watch how this battle plays out over the year.”

Opera sells its browser to many cellphone makers and operators, and consumers can directly download it for free, while the Apple browser’s ranking reflects only iPhone users surfing the Internet.

Nokia, the world’s top cellphone maker, retained third place in mobile browsers with 17.9 percent of the market, StatCounter said.

StatCounter said its research data is based on four billion pages loaded per month.

Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Gary Hill