While it wasn't the record-breaking 61.64% share of mobile web browsing that Apple's iOS achieved in October 2011, Net Applications, the company that counts hits on its 40,000 client sites, said that Apple's popular iOS browser dominated the mobile web again in December with 52.1%, well ahead of its closest competitor, Java ME (Micro Edition), designed for embedded systems and claiming just 21.27% market share. 

Android ranked a distant third at 16.29% in December, with Symbian and BlackBerry at 5.76% and 3.51% respectively.  But Apple's share has been dipping since topping out in October, losing ground to the embedded Java ME source code licensed under the GNU General Public License and found in cell phones, and other computer products such as PDAs and set-top boxes.  

Java ME Gives Apple a Run

One look at the NetApplications chart tells the story, with Apple iOS and Java ME mirror images reflecting the market share over the course of the past year. For example, the October peak for Apple was a dip (down to 12.81%) for Java ME.

Tracking web browsing by operating system is one way to view actual use by consumers vs. company data that  reports units shipped into the market, and may remain on store shelves, or inventory warehouses.

Source: NetApplications Showing Top Mobile OS Feb.-Dec. 2011

Apple has three popular platforms that help drive the numbers in its favor, including the iPhone, iPad and iTouch. The less popular AppleTV is also included in the numbers, as are set-top boxes using the Java ME code for access to popular web sites such as Netflix and HuluPlus.

And that may be the point, as the Java Platform Micro Edition may be gaining market share not just from embedded lower cost cell phones with web browsing capabilities, but with the growing popularity of over-the-top viewing of films and TV shows from standalone set-top boxes, DVD and Blu-Ray disc players in the home.

Java TV

Java TV refers to JSR 927, the Java Community Process (JCP) specification providing application programming interfaces for digital TV-related capabilities for set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players and other digital media devices. The company said its API for TV provides access to a variety of broadcast- and media-related APIs supporting a wide range of applications such as EPG (electronic program guide) VOD (video on demand) and gaming found in most web-based players today. The technology is an optional package that sits atop the Connected Device Configuration, Foundation Profile and Personal Basis Profile (CDC/FP and PBP).