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Apple’s iPad owns 88% of global tablet web traffic

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Apple’s iPad is the biggest seller in the tablet space, but we have seen many iPad competitors come out over recent months, including Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Blackberry PlayBook, Amazon Kindle Fire, and many more.

However, despite all these Android tablets, according to comScore in October 2011, 95.5% of all tablet web traffic in the U.S. comes from iPad.

That is a stunning number. So, is anyone really buying all these shipping Android tablets, and what do people do with them after they buy them? Because they don’t seem to be surfing the Web.

Tablet web traffic

Numbers for how much web traffic that tablets account for are still not readily available. Here are a few examples of figures for web traffic related to iPads:

  • Earlier this year we learned that iPad had close to 1% of all web browsing traffic, which put it ahead of its nearest competitor by almost 53 times. That number had in the latest stats from NetMarketshare from October 2011 grown to 1.58%.
  • Ooyala reported that iPad accounted for the “vast majority of video played on a tablet in Q3 [2011].” In fact, iPad stood for 95.7% of total video hours streamed.
  • In StatCounter’s data for web traffic and operating systems, it has separated out small screen devices from the operating system statistics. But tablet-sized devices remain, so this way we can see the actual share of iOS for iPad, Android on tablets, etc. Back in April 2011, iPad accounted for 1.18% of operating systems used to browse the web in the U.S. That number is 1.93% now in November.

We used the StatCounter data to calculate how the tablet market is divided today. This is the result:

In this analysis iPad accounts for almost 88% of tablet web traffic, Android for about 11% and the others trail far behind. Out of these operating systems, the only one that exists purely on tablets is iOS, but we strongly suspect that this is a good reflection of reality.

For example, there are some tablets running Windows 7 in the market, as well as some netbooks that run Android, so there’s a real mix.

Based on this it would seem that comScore’s finding that iPad accounts for 95.5% of tablet web traffic is a bit optimistic. But its number is for the U.S. market only and perhaps the very fact that we’ve reported StatCounter’s global figures explains at least some of the difference.

Tablets compared to desktops

To put things in perspective, iPad currently accounts for 1.2% of worldwide web usage for desktops and tablets according to StatCounter. This is obviously not a lot compared to desktop operating systems like Windows 7 or even Mac OS X, but as we have seen, it’s far ahead of Android on tablets.

Market share

The obvious follow-up question is to ask how this relates to each platform’s market share. John Gruber of Daring Fireball has done a good job of highlighting the complexities of comparing numbers of shipping units versus sold units. Basically, Apple reports actual sales but many companies and analysts show only numbers for shipments.

Some of the market share numbers for iPad we could find include:

  • 83% of U.S. tablet sales.
  • 68.3% of worldwide media tablet shipments.
  • 73% of worldwide sales of media tablets to end users.
  • 61% of global tablet shipments.
  • 80% of tablet shipments in North America.
  • In October Google mobile chief Andy Rubin said that there are “a little more than six million Android tablets out there running Google’s services,” meaning they run Google’s apps and the Android Market. Compare that with the total number of iPads sold, as reported by Apple, close to 40 million, and iPad has a market share of 85%.

If we disregard the obvious issues of how comparable these numbers really are for the sake of this exercise, iPad’s average market share is 75% and the median is 80%.

This means iPad’s market share is far lower than its share of global tablet web traffic.

iPad still king of market share and web traffic

There’s no doubt that consumers around the world are buying Android tablets but the market share is still way behind iPad, regardless of which source you look at. In our analysis this is also reflected in Android’s and iPad’s share of tablet web traffic.

But what’s really interesting is that iPad accounts for so much more of the global web traffic than its reported market share would indicate.

Do Android tablet users browse the web less than iPad users?