This week ReadWriteWeb is running a series of posts analyzing the five biggest Web trends of 2009. So far we've explored these trends: Structured Data, The Real-Time Web, Personalization. The fourth part of our series is on Mobile Web. We're including Augmented Reality in this category, as we think it's a key element of where the Mobile Web is heading circa 2009.

In April we reported statistics from browser company Opera showing large growth on the Mobile Web. According to Opera, there was a 157% increase in usage of their Opera Mini web browser from March 2008 to March 2009. What's driving that growth is devices like the iPhone, new mobile operating systems like Android, and hot applications like Augmented Reality.

Editor's note: This story is part of a series we call Redux, where we'll re-publish some of our best posts of 2009. As we look back at the year - and ahead to what next year holds - we think these are the stories that deserve a second glance. It's not just a best-of list, it's also a collection of posts that examine the fundamental issues that continue to shape the Web. We hope you enjoy reading them again and we look forward to bringing you more Web products and trends analysis in 2010. Happy holidays from Team ReadWriteWeb!

Apple Dominates Mobile Web, But Android on The Rise...

We named Apple our Best Bigco of 2008, mostly due to the success of the iPhone and accompanying App Store. By most statistics, Apple is in a fairly dominant position in the Mobile Web. At the beginning of the year we reported data from AdMob (a leading mobile advertising marketplace) showing that Apple has a 48% market share of smartphone traffic in the United States. That figure doesn't just come from the iPhone, but the iPod touch too.

By June 2009, Apple's share of smartphone traffic in the U.S. had surged to 64%. Perhaps more significantly though, Apple's share of worldwide smartphone traffic had increased to 47%. This is important, because internationally other smartphones were utilized much more than in the U.S. before the iPhone arrived.

However, Apple can't afford to rest on its laurals. Google's mobile OS Android has been making rapid progress. According to the latest Admob statistics available, for July '09, requests from the Android Operating System increased 53% month over month and Android now has 7% worldwide OS share. The iPhone OS dropped slightly to 45% worldwide and 60% in the U.S.

Bigco Initiatives & Trendy Startups

All of the big Internet companies have strong Mobile Web initiatives. We discussed Apple and Google above.

Yahoo continues to push Mobile Web, which currently goes under the OneConnect brand.

Microsoft has announced a number of mobile initiatives this year, including a mobile version of Microsoft Office and MySpace bringing its platform to Windows Mobile phones.

Earlier this month Facebook announced a mobile expansion of their Facebook Connect platform. "Facebook Connect for Mobile Web" enables developers to add a Facebook Connect button to their apps in order to make them more social.

Probably of most interest is watching the up and coming Mobile Web startups. We've had our eye on Brightkite for some time, but perhaps the trendiest startup right now is Foursquare. It's a location-aware social app for the iPhone, but only available in a limited number of countries currently.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality, the addition of a layer to the world on your mobile device, has been a very hot trend this year. As we noted in August, it is in everything from mobile apps to kids toys. Many people think that "AR" will soon be talked about by everyone the way they used to talk about "social media" and "Web 2.0" before that. That remains to be seen, but there's no denying there is a lot of interest in AR right now.

As we reported at the end of August, the AR apps are starting to flow into Android (the early leader in this space) and iPhone devices. We reported that the Paris Metro Subway was apparently the first AR-enabled app to be accepted into iTunes. Then came a new Yelp app with AR, which any 3Gs owner can turn on by shaking their phone. Presselite, the company that made the Paris Metro Subway app, followed up with a London Bus app for the App Store.

Conclusion

Clearly mobile devices are an increasingly important way to access the Web. Many of our readers have smartphones nowadays, a good proportion of them being iPhones or Android devices (our statistics prove this). And there is no shortage of mobile web applications flowing into the App Store and Android's marketplace - not to forget Nokia and other prominent mobile manufacturers.

What's perhaps most encouraging however, is the entirely new class of mobile apps we're seeing. Augmented Reality is the most obvious example. It's been a big year for mobile, with much promise to come.

ReadWriteWeb's Top 5 Web Trends of 2009:

  1. Structured Data
  2. The Real-Time Web
  3. Personalization
  4. Mobile Web & Augmented Reality
  5. Internet of Things