iPod Touch browser share triples

Strong sales or off-work holidays may be the cause for post-Christmas Eve surge.

Apple's iPod Touch over the last four days has almost tripled its share of the browser market compared to the first 24 days of December, according to a Web metrics company.

Net Applications reported that the browser share for the iPod Touch averaged17% between Dec. 25 and Dec. 28, nearly three times the average of.06% for the period from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24.

The iPod Touch is the only model in Apple's music player line that can connect to the Internet via its stripped-down Safari browser. The device, which starts at US$229, is nearly identical to the iPhone, and lacks only the smartphone's ability to make and receive calls, and to connect to a mobile carrier's data network. iPod Touch users can connect to the Internet via a wireless access point, such as those in many coffee shops and airports, or by using a home, school or company wireless network.

The surge in share may have come from iPod Touch players given as holiday gifts, although Net Applications has noted previously that all browsers except for Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer tend to increase their share during weekends, evenings and holidays. The phenomenon is caused by users leaving their work computers -- the bulk of which run IE -- and running alternative browsers on their home computers or other devices.

Apple's iPhone also boosted its browser share in the last four days, Net Applications' data showed. Since Dec. 25, the iPhone's share has averaged.65%, a jump of more than 50% from the Dec 1 to Dec. 24 average of.42%, and an increase of nearly 76% over its November share.

In October, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the iPod Touch and iPhone the company's current answer to the growing sales of "netbooks" -- small, lightweight and low-priced computer notebooks.

At the time, one analyst agreed with Jobs. "For Apple, the iPhone and iPod Touch are a way to provide Web-access devices to the rest of the world," said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research Inc. "And it prevents them from cannibalizing their MacBook lines."

Two weeks ago, however, Gottheil changed his tune and said he expected Apple to introduce netbooks next week at the MacWorld Conference and Expo. Gottheil speculated that the new netbooks, which would be priced starting at $599, would, like the iPhone and iPod Touch, rely on the company's App Store for software downloads.

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Gregg Keizer

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