Apple's iPad continues to dominate Internet traffic from tablets, generating a disproportionate 87 percent of traffic in the U.S. and Canada during the week of December 8th through the 14th. Apple had approximately 50% of the tablet market in the September quarter, but despite sales at the register, iPad users have long used their devices more than owners of competing devices.
Chitika released a report on Friday showing tablet impressions from non-iPad devices measured against iPad impressions for the above-mentioned time frame. The chart below shows that Amazon's Kindle Fire did the best, generating 4.88 impressions per 100 iPad impressions.
While small in absolute terms, Amazon's performance represents a sharp increase from June of 2012, when the Kindle Fire generated less than 1 impression per 100 iPad impressions. Since that time frame, the retail giant released the Kindle Fire HD, a significant update to the Kindle platform.
Samsung has also seen a sharp increase in percentage terms since June, when the Galaxy Tab family generated less than 2 impressions per 100 iPad impressions. In Chatika's December 8th-14th report, Samsung's tablet entry generated just over 3 impressions, a jump of more than 50 percent.
The only other tablet worth mentioning is the Google Nexus family, devices that have been critically well-received. Despite that reception, the Google Nexus family generated just 1.22 impressions for every 100 iPad impressions during that period.
The most remarkable thing about this report is that iPad's share of Web traffic declined just 4 percentage points during the last six months. In June of 2012, iPad users generated 91 percent of impressions, declining to 87 percent in the new report. During the same period of time, Apple's share of the tablet market has declined from roughly 70 percent to just over 50 percent.
This, despite the fact that Chitika told The Mac Observer in June that Apple's share of tablet-generated traffic should decline to more closely match its share of sales.
“Even though [Apple] still remain dominant, the disparity is not the same as it used to be, and we believe the tablet market will follow a similar trend [as the smartphone industry as competing devices get better] in terms of functionality, usability, and accessibility (in terms of both hardware and software),” the company told TMO at the time.
Those competing devices have done just that, improved. The Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, as well as Kindle Fire HD, represent significant steps forward in terms of specs and usability, but actual usage has not followed suit. The devices are either ending up sitting on a shelf or are being used primarily as eReaders, take your pick.
It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks—Chitika said it will be releasing new reports in the near future—as Christmas buying filters into usage reports. While Apple's share of sales may jump this quarter thanks to iPad mini and iPad with Retina Display, the reality is that many new competing devices were also under a lot of trees this year.
Will they be used, or will they become paperweights? We have long made the case that iPad's share of the tablet market will more closely resemble iPod than iPhone. The experience is the killer app for tablets and MP3 players alike, whereas merely being able to access the Internet is the killer app for smartphones, making cheap devices "good enough" for many people.
So far, that assessment has been borne out by time. At 50+ percent of the market, iPad hasn't quite met iPod standards, but it's far closer than iPhone's roughly 17 percent of the smartphone market. Chitika's impression reports and every other metric we've seen also back up the idea that the experience is key.
The question is whether or not Android or Kindle can close the experience gap. We have our doubts.