By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
January 1, 2009

Apple’s (AAPL) presence on the Web expanded to record levels in December, according to preliminary data released early New Year’s day by Net Applications.

Mac OS X’s percentage of Web hits reached a record 9.63%, up more than 9% since November and nearly 32% from Dec. 2007.

Gains for the iPhone were even more impressive. Its share of the Web traffic grew nearly 19% to hit a record 0.44%. That’s more than three and a half times the 0.12% share it recorded one year ago.

The iPod’s Web share, meanwhile, grew 60% last month, from 0.05% to .08% — another sign of the strong holiday sales of the iPod touch reflected last week by a sharp rise in downloads from the App Store (see here).

All told, the entire Mac OS X Web experience now stands at 10.15%.

Microsoft (MSFT) Windows, meanwhile, continues its downward drift, having lost more than 1.1% of its Internet share in the space of a month. Windows PCs still dominate the Web, however, with 88.68% of page hits as measured by Net Applications.

Net Applications’ monthly surveys are conducted by sampling browser data from some 160 million visits to Web sites operated by the firm’s clients. Although it describes the results as “market shares,” the Web metrics company does not actually measure share of market in the traditional sense of sales revenue or unit sales. It does, however, provide a consistent methodology by which to gauge browser and operating system trends.

To see its Jan. 1 report, click here. The results are summarized in the table below.

Hidden in these monthly figures are the sharp spikes recorded by Apple’s mobile devices around the holidays. You can see them in the day-to-day chart of Net Applications data posted early Thursday on The Mac Observer’s Apple Finance Board by member Alexis Cabot. In the graph below, the dark blue line represents Web hits from iPhones and the green line hits from iPod touches.

It remains to be seen if the end-of-year trends hold up in 2009. A note on Net Application’s website warns:

“The December holiday season strongly favored residential over business usage. This in turn increases the relative usage share of Mac, Firefox, Safari and other products that have relatively high residential usage.” (link)

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