Over the past 12 months, mobile access to the Internet nearly doubled to 8.5 percent, not counting tablets, according to data released this week by StatCounter, a Web analytics company.

The vast majority of Internet usage is still tied to desktop PCs, the data shows. Yet in the fast-growing mobile space, the name that dominates the PC world, Microsoft, is invisible. Nokia remains the leading mobile vendor worldwide, but the Web page-view numbers show a company in decline over the past year, as is Research in Motion, when compared to Apple. The growing mobile operating systems are iOS and Android.

In the US market, the dominance of iOS and Android is much more pronounced compared to all other rivals.

StatCounter's figures are based on aggregate data it collects from a sample of more than 15 billion page views monthly on its network of over 3 million websites. The page views are dissected based on the requesting device's OS, mobile browser, and brand, among other variables. The complete report, in the form of interactive line or bar charts, which also covers desktop browsing data, is available online

Opera leading in browser popularity

Internet access through mobile devices, except for laptops, jumped from 4.3 percent in January 2011 to 8.5 percent last month. In January 2010, the share was just 1.7 percent.

Globally, the Symbian OS still dominates in the StatCounter sample: devices running this OS accounted for 32 percent of StatCounter page views, but it's trending downward. IOS accounted for 24 percent, with Android just below that; both are trending upward. BlackBerry OS plunged, from 15 percent a year ago to just under 8 percent last month.

In the US, iOS devices (again, not counting iPads) accounted for 45 percent of the page views; Android accounted for 39 percent. BlackBerry OS declined from 26 percent to 8 percent during the 12-month period. Symbian, never strong in this market, ended at about 4 percent.

Mobile browser user reflects the platforms they are associated with. Opera, with just under 24 percent of the page views globally remained the leader, but trending down. The Android browser was just ahead of Apple's Safari at 20 percent, with both trending upward. Nokia's browser accounted for about 12 percent of page views, BlackBerry browser about 7 percent, both of them trending downward.

Nokia-branded devices in the lead globally

In North America, the top browser was Android, with 37 percent share of the views. Safari on the iPhone was just behind at about 34 percent. But Safari on the iPod touch, accounted for about another 10 percent. Blackberry browser shrank to about 7.5 percent and Nokia ended the year at about 2 percent of the North American page view share.

Looking at the global page view numbers in terms of the device vendors, Nokia-branded devices hovered around 40 percent of the total, ending the year at 38 percent; Apple ended with about 29 percent, but again was trending upward. RIM again showed its decline: dropping from 18 percent to about 9 percent. Samsung rose during the year from about 7 to 15 percent, most of that presumably from its Android-based product line though it does offer mobile devices running its own Bada operating systems or Microsoft Windows Phone.

In North America, Apple held nearly two-thirds of the share, rising from 47.5 percent to nearly 60 percent last month. RIM's share dropped from 34 percent to 11 percent in the same period. Samsung doubled its share from about 6 to 12 percent. Nokia ended the year where it began: around 6 percent, a tie with HTC.

StatCounter has also announced that new stats regarding mobile vendors are now available on its Global Stats website. The firm has been compiling and refining these stats for some time and has now made the beta project public. Based on initial research covering all traffic to the StatCounter network, Nokia leads worldwide, most probably driven by its dominance in India. Apple is second globally but leads the US and UK markets. In the UK, RIM is second only to Apple.