updated 01:20 am EDT, Tue June 25, 2013
Apple tablet dominate rivals, put squeeze on Amazon
Apple's iPad tablet has high a five-month high in terms of web interaction by North American users, reports mobile advertising firm Chitika, with the next two groups of rivals -- Amazon's Kindle Fire and Samsung's Galaxy tablet models -- far behind. While the iPad platform dropped slightly in April, the report from May shows not only a return to form but surpassing its previous dominance, to a level not seen since Christmas, 82.4 percent. Combined, all the tablet rivals to the iPad have less than 18 percent share in real-world usage stats.
The finding is not unusual among surveys that look at end-user engagement with tablets compared to "shipment" data from the manufacturers -- which paints a rosier picture and is often confused for sales, particularly among Wall Street analysts for some reason. Android share in North America -- both from tablets and smartphones -- has been on a slow decline in 2013, though this is not reflective of the worldwide trend.
Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets were the second-most popular choice, currently holding 6.5 percent of North American tablet web traffic share. Ironically, the Kindle Fire is not considered a "true" Android tablet because it uses a forked version of the OS and until recently did not interact at all with Google's Play store for apps (though it can be made to download apps from other non-official Android app stores).
In third place are the Samsung Galaxy tablets (various models) with a combined 4.7 percent. Fourth place goes to Google's own Nexus tablets at 1.6 percent, with all other competitors having sub one-percent shares in web traffic. Chitika determines the share by analyzing the rate of ads served on free apps on the various platforms. It draws from a pool of 300,000 popular sites serving four billion ads per month.
Surveys such as this one reinforce the idea that there is a serious -- and growing -- disconnect between "sales" and "shipments" as reported in most media outlets. To hear analysts tell the tale, not only does the iPad make up only about half of US tablet shipments (or "sales" to resellers), but that its percentage is dropping as more and better Android tablets (such as the well-regarded Nexus line, though there have been recent reports of issues) come to market. Alongside other real-world and end-user usability studies, however, the facts just don't add up -- presuming that almost all tablets sold are used at least some of the time online.