PHPs main use is simplicity. Isn't python supposed to be simple?
The simplest program, is edit a file called helloworld.php and put this in it. <? echo "hello world"; ?> Upload helloworld.php to your host.
PHP is on a lot of hosts by default. mod_python support is improving a lot, with it being a supported configuration in a bunch of the hosting control panels now.
PHP has much better documentation than python. Yes, user comments do work. Yes a searchable documentation is useful. The PHP documentation has better structure, and a common style which is followed for all of its parts. You will see examples for every function.
Some language features are better than python ones. Its array combines lists, and dict functionality. They even preserve order, which is a common need. It has a familiar syntax to C/C++/java/C# programmers. The syntax is a reason why some people do not use python. Which is silly. but eh.
Of course PHP can be used with MVC style as well. Where you do not mix your code and html. Lots of major programs do not mix code and html in php land. Check out the various open source applications available. I'd be suprised if you found even one that mixed html and code.
PHP can also be used threaded, and not part of apache at all. Running as fcgi processes. It can also be run from the command line, and from cgi.
A windows installer for a python web server would go a long way towards getting designers able to use it. I think that is one of plones reasons for success. Having a usable WSGI server that is in standard python would be great.
>Its array combines lists, and dict functionality. They even preserve order, which is a common need.<
Yes, it's a common need, every week people ask how to sort a dict. Unsorted dicts are probably faster then ordered ones, that probably have to be implemented as some kind of trees (to avoid wasting memory). Around there are some odict (ordered dict) implementations for Python, but maybe they aren't used much. Putting one of such refined implementations inside the collections module of the standard library (Hettinger can probably do something like this in few days) can help, but probably not much. Changing the Python dicts to ordered ones can (probably) be done without breaking old python programs, but such change can probably slow down all the CPython (but I don't know much), so I don't know how much good it can be.
Having a mixed list and dict functionality can be a positive thing for a scripting language that has to be used for quick programming tasks, but probably it's not useful for Python now... I don't know.# bearophile
About the documentation
Agreed, agreed, agreed. It's one of the thing which really needs improvement at the python Web site. The documentation is just not usable for people with little understanding of programming. The step is really too high to be able to start programming because of the documentation.
Take for example Module Email in Python http://docs.python.org/lib/module-email.html
And compare to Module Mail in PHP http://jp2.php.net/manual/function.mail.php
What is more useful for a beginner? Attracting more beginners to Python will help to reach the mass limit for having a python ecology on Web sites. :) Documentation is one of the key thing.
Better doc, more people more people, progress in libraries and hosting services supporting python.
I love python, but it's very difficult to use at the start.