The iPad already used more than Linux computers


We noticed an interesting thing the other day that we’d like to share with you. However, if you’re a Linux enthusiast, you may want to stop reading now…

These are the operating system stats for April for the United States:

Top operating systems in the United States

These market share numbers are from Statcounter and are based on visitor statistics averaged from 3+ million websites. In other words, they represent computers used to access the Web. Mobile phones and other small-screen devices are not included.

In other words, the iOS market share you see in the chart is only for iPad. It does not include the iPhone or iPod Touch. We’ve verified this with Statcounter, just to be entirely sure.

Not only is iPad now so widely used that it shows up in this list, iOS for iPad has managed to pass Linux as a “desktop OS” (we use quotes, because tablets will probably soon make up their own category). In fact, it passed Linux sometime around December. Not bad for a device that was launched just back in April of 2010.

Other “iPad nations”

The iPad has reached this level of market penetration in several other countries as well. For example:

  • In the United Kingdom, iPad’s iOS makes up 0.94%, versus 0.74% for Linux.
  • In Canada, iPad’s iOS makes up 0.91%, versus 0.76% for Linux.
  • In Australia, iPad’s iOS makes up 1.19%, versus 0.66% for Linux.
  • In the Netherlands, iPad’s iOS makes up 1.16%, versus 0.81% for Linux.

No one can say that Apple’s little tablet isn’t popular these days. And this was just year one for the iPad.

How fast did the iPad reach these levels?

The wifi model of the first iPad launched on April 3, 2010, and the 3G version followed a few weeks later. Here’s the iPad’s “desktop OS market share,” month by month since then:

iPad iOS desktop OS market share in the United States over time

The iPad seems to have been a popular gift this Christmas, considering how usage increased in connection with the holiday season.

This blog’s perspective

Just for fun, we also had a look at our own blog stats. They’re from Google Analytics and represent “visits” so the metric is slightly different, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

In the past 30 days, 1.9% of the visits were from iPads. Interestingly, a full 3.3% were from iPhones, and 1% from iPods. So iOS devices as a group account for more than 6% of our visits. Android accounts for 1.6%.

Linux computers still beat the iPad among our readers, though, with 5.88% of the visits, perhaps not surprising since we tend to have a pretty tech savvy audience (not to say that iPad users can’t be tech savvy, just that the odds for people using Linux becomes slightly higher).

Still, that’s just for one site, ours. Different sites have different kinds of visitors. The Statcounter numbers are averaged for 3+ million websites so it will give a more accurate picture than looking at any one site.


  1. as always when i see such stats, i find myself wondering what effect it would have if preinstalled linux computers was sold side by side with windows ones.

  2. “How about Android devices? Do they fall within the Linux stats from Statcounter?”

    No, because Android is not linux and you cant connect to the internet with android…………………… 😉

  3. @Giorgio, @Michael – Including Linux servers would be like including 40-inch bus/semi/etc. tires in an automotive tire survey. 🙂

    @turn_self_off – Walmart did try selling preinstalled Linux computers side-by-side with Windows ones. People bought them, took them home, found they couldn’t install stuff they expected to be able to install on a “regular” computer, and took them back.

  4. @turn_self_off

    Unfortunately, the few datapoints we do have (Dell’s not so recent experiment) did not work out too well.

    I think people saw Linux as a me-too Windows. And the price savings (~$50) were not sufficient to entice them to go to something completely unfamiliar.

  5. @Arne-Björne:

    Android Tablets are not that popular. There are much fewer of them than Linux boxes. After all, the Motorola Xoom barely sold 100,000.

  6. A mass-marketed piece of Hardware is more popular than a piece of software that receives almost zero consumer mindshare… like a BMW running over a homemade skateboard.

    Not commenting on quality or capability, mind you… I’m sure the skateboard is quite capable despite it’s size and simplicity in construction, and more parts of the BMW are plastic and Styrofoam than the manufacturer would like to admit… particularly around the bumpers that maybe one day could save your life (or they can just burst spectacularly on impact.) But I’m sure Apple fan boys will knead this morsel of chocolate right into their superiority dough anyway.

    So, how about an article when the iPad beats out something significant? I know it’s hard to use Browser identification to divide netbooks from laptops, or any other PC form factor, but I’m sure that’s more of interest than beating out something that a good 80% of consumers will never hear about in their lifetime.

  7. Unless servers are not to be considered “computers”, the data does not support the article title – “The iPad already used more than Linux computers”.

  8. heh, interesting comments.. if we read the article clearly we’d see this is a survey of web-surfing computers, and does not include mobile devices such as phones nor servers.

    that ipad iOS has already surpassed a long-standing desktop platform is indeed interesting for a number of reasons, regardless of sour grapes.

  9. This makes complete sense. If the Mac OSX is at 14.91%, a lot of those users also have an iPad and most likely use them almost simultaneously. It’s not a new competitor, it’s just another Apple device, and Apple has a big fan base.

  10. @turn_self_off:

    In addition to commenter addicted’s aforementioned failed Dell foray into Linux desktops, Linux also resolutely failed on netbooks.

    The original netbooks were Linux-equipped sub-10″ systems. The market did not care much for these, and today the netbook marketplace has basically abandoned Linux as well as the smallest sizes.

  11. The title should have been “The iPad already used more for browsing than Linux desktops”. Because, there are more “computers” running Linux than any other OS on this planet. Linux dominates as server OS, on embedded systems, on the mainframe, in supercomputing, mobile, … Actually, everywhere except on the desktop.

  12. For those asking about Android and Symbian, iOS grabbed 3.3x more web browsing market share compare to Android and 5.5x more share than Symbian in March this year according to Net Applications:

    Operating System Total Market Share
    Windows 89.58%
    Mac 5.25%
    iOS 1.87%
    Java ME 0.98%
    Linux 0.96%
    Android 0.56%
    Symbian 0.34%
    BlackBerry 0.13%
    Windows Mobile 0.03%
    Playstation 0.02%
    FreeBSD 0.01%
    BREW 0.01%
    Nintendo Wii 0.00%
    SunOS 0.00% Nintendo DS 0.00%
    Palm 0.00%
    Web TV 0.00%
    OpenBSD 0.00%
    NetBSD 0.00%
    AIX 0.00%
    SCP 0.00%
    HP-UX 0.00%


  13. Hi, Ipad’s sold 20million sets, so there are no 20 million people using linux?

    Linux is not commercial (at least for desktop), thanks

  14. I think the main issue people are having here is that the title is misleading and doesn’t match the actual article. The title claims that the iPad is used more than Linux computers whilst the article shows evidence that people browse the web more using the iPad than Linux computers (with computer here meaning “Desktop or Laptop system” rather than computer).

    So with that in mind the title is false or at least needs a better definition of what is meant by “used” because by my definition at least, “Linux computer” includes any device that runs the Linux kernel or a variant of it (e.g. android) whether that’s a server, supercomputer, desktop, TV, phone, etc.
    Considering that anyone who accesses a web page hosted on a Linux server is indirectly “using” Linux to get that page and all the uses of other Linux devices I think it would be safe to say that Linux is being used massively more than OS X, iOS and likely even Windows Vista.

    I’d just like to close by stating that I do not overly disagree with the figures or statements of the article itself but it would have been better if you had used a more appropriate title to avoid the confusion.

  15. This article makes you funny, biased and totally irrelevant data provider. Including iPad, but not other tablets is stupid. Reason why iPhone wasn’t included is cause then you would have to include Android devices; in that case, Linux would be 2-3x bigger player than iOS.

    I would publish article like this only under heavy influence of alcohol, heroin or cocaine. Oh, I would also publish article like this if I would be a Mac fanboy.

  16. Linux? What’s that? To the masses of desktop users Linux is a faceless operating system. With new distro’s coming out every week nobody knows what Linux looks like. It has no identity to the end user. Similarly, it’s a moving target to developers. They’d have to develop a bazillion versions of their software in order to claim Linux compatibility.

    Need further proof that Linux is horribly fragmented? Then why are there so many repositories out there. Why can’t all Linux computers access the same repositories?

    It’s a totally chaotic world in Linux land. But isn’t that they way Linux supporters like it? If you mention the need to standardize Linux desktop look and feel (and programming environment) to Linux geeks they will boo you off the planet.

    Another interesting graph would show how Linux has progressed in recent years. I doubt it’s gone anywhere in the last five years. It’s already saturated it’s market. Everybody who is interested in using linux on the desktop is already using it.

    Five years ago Linux appeared to gaining some traction. It wasnt’ uncommon to hear people talking about Redhat. It had brand recognition amoung ordinary end users. But then Redhat left the desktop. That’s about the time that disappeared from view in the desktop users mind.

    I personally use Linux every day. But it’s just for surfing the web at home. I had high hopes for desktops a few years ago. I wanted to use it at work as well. But it’s become apparent that it’s never going to happen. Linux will forever remain a geeks toy. But hey, that’s important niche. Just dont’ look it to go beyond that.

  17. Isn’t Apple OS now based on old Open Source BSD OS?

    Every apple fan should thank BSD for freely providing solid foundation for current apple products.

  18. @James Katt: That’s a very one dimensional post. The Xoom was priced way too high and you could say Honeycomb was still in beta.

    Samsung sold around 2 million Tabs. Still very little compared to the iPad, but there are more Android tablets.

    Archos is showing record sales, Tegra 2 tablets like the Vega are popular with the enthusiast (Linux) gadget freaks, as the Tegra 2 is quite a nice SoC.

    If you count the Nook Color as an Android tablet, things look a lot better for Android tablets.

    For the coming months Samsung will come with their 2nd gen tablets, and competitors like HTC, LG, Asus and many more will flood the market with Android tablets.

  19. Your numbers are interesting. So is your take on them. I’ll make a couple of points.

    1) This is my first visit to your site ever. I came here only because of the headline on the Linux Today website.

    2) I am a Linux user.

    3) If you rely on Google Analytics to tell you that, then you won’t know that. I block access to that site for performance and privacy reasons.

    I use Windows products only when I must. I don’t use Apple products at all–even their Windows products like QuickTime and iTunes.. Why?

    When I buy a product, I figure it’s mine to use as I see fit. I don’t want Microsoft or Apple telling me what I can or can’t do with it.

    Linux users may or may not be more “tech savvy” than other users, but in some ways they may be smarter.

  20. “No, because Android is not linux and you cant connect to the internet with android…………………… ;)”

    Bull crap! Android is very much Linux. It runs on the Linux kernel. It is not “Desktop” Linux but it is Linux. Also, every Android device I have ever touched connects to the internet. You sir are a maroon.

  21. MacOS/X 14.9% ? Nope, not even close. Apple reveals unit shipments in its SEC filing and they show about 4% of PCs shipped with MacOS/X. They call them Macs.

    That’s a global number, so the high support for Apple is a USA-only thing. Globally, GNU/Linux and Android/Linux (yes, it runs on Linux) is far higher than MacOS or iOS. The world wants small cheap computers, not small expensive computers. Many Android tablets are in comparable price ranges to iPad but there are many selling rapidly at lower prices iPad cannot match.

    Wikipedia stats that are heavily weighted to USA/Europe show GNU/Linux at 2.53% and Android (part of Linux) at 1% while iPad is back at 0.7% and iPhone is 2.7%, comparable to Linux.

    The farther away you get from USA, the greater acceptance Linux has because of the price, reliability, and simple licensing.

  22. Most people driving Toyota’s not Benz.
    Market share has no detriment on my Ubuntu 11.04.
    The Internet centric operating system with no equal.
    Linux figures are harder to count. The actual desktop figures actually could be 2-3% or higher. Linux is everywhere in every device around you.
    Open source is quite a success. I don’t care if everyone uses Linux, it’s the best

  23. This is the stupidest article about Linux I’ve read in a long long time.

    So people are spending more time cruising porn sites and facebook on an Ipad than a linux desktop! STFW? Nice that Apple is providing an outlet for the people who have nothing to do with their lives except waste them.

    The head line should be more people are wasting their time on Ipads then Linux desktops, because the Linux users are actually getting work done, being productive.

  24. This stat is apple vs orange. Tablets are passive while desktops are active.
    In other words, people use tablet more for surfing while people on desktop
    do “work” (create doc, draw, etc).


  25. The problem with these numbers forgets that Linux users are the hardest to track. A lot of Linux users fake their browsers to IE to get around some general problems on the net, along with the paranoid tendencies that these users have that drives them to have noscript and adblockers directed at stopping the javascript that is used to track visits.

    As a final point, it should also be noticed that the type of sites that use statcounter are a little more “mainstream” than the types of sites that a Linux fanatic may frequent, as opposed to the sweep of young people that have jumped on the tablet bandwagon and visit whatever sites that get linked to them on their Facebook walls.

  26. Your title should have stated very clearly “..than Linux computers in US”. You Americans are so self-important! If you like Macs ( and it’s only you who actually use Macs ) it doesn’t mean everybody does. These stats are non-relevant at all. Worldwide, thousands of government institutions, schools, and companies use Linux on their machines. These are more or less counted by your american sites. I’ve never seen a OS X running. So, some real worldwide mass trends are downloading Windows torrents and downloading Linux distributions.

  27. I think people are reading more into the situation than what’s really there.

    The iPad is more of a gadget than a personal computer and gadgets sell.

    It may be a capable gadget, capable enough for some percentage of people that it *could* replace their computer, but there are significant limitations.

    If the OS+hardware were as capable as a Desktop/Laptop, able to connect and use all the same external devices, able to run the same software, etc… maybe the statistic would be more interesting, but it would still only tell you what people are using to browse the web.

    And since “Mobile phones and other small-screen devices are not included.” there is the question of… What constitutes a “small-screen device”? I would consider 10″ to be a small screen device, but then that cuts out many (most?) netbooks from the statistic, if those are considered small-screen devices, assuming these are identified in a way that you can tell.

    And what is the purpose of not including small-screen devices in the statistics in the first place?

    Later, Seeker

  28. Well #1 the answer to this whole thing was laid out early on. The rest is pointless. The iPad was LAUNCHED. Was Linux ever really launched on a product? See any commercials for it? Does it benefit from established ecosystem of other devices? No. But even with the launch it did have on netbooks it sold like crazy. It sold so well that Microsoft completely went back on their plans for XP and started pushing it on netbooks to try and stop it. It eventually killed netbooks altogether. Launch Linux the same way you launch an iPad and watch what happens.

    And lmao at someone joking about Linux being able to connect to the internet. If it couldn’t there would be no internet.

  29. @ FUD,
    No, if you include all Android smartphone and tablet users and all Linux users together, that is still only 81% the share that all iOS devices capture.

    As I posted further up the page, Apple’s iOS (iPhone, iPad & iPod touch) grabbed 3.3x more web browsing market share than Android and 5.5x more share than Symbian in March this year according to Net Applications:

    Operating System Total web browsing Market Share

    Java ME…………….0.98%
    Windows Mobile……0.03%
    Nintendo Wii……….0.00%
    Nintendo DS……….0.00%
    Web TV…………….0.00%


  30. The question isn’t “is linux ready for the desktop”. It’s been more than ready. For years. I use it for one of my desktops. I find it slightly less annoying on a whole than my windows machine.

    The question is, “are casual desktop users ready for linux”. The answer is no. And most likely will always be that way. The adaptability of linux, the fact it can be customized in so many situations, and used in so many different ways, makes it impossible to sell as a cohesive, understandable idea, to most people.

    I mean, ipad is the least annoying operating system. Sure, you can only do the few options that it says you can, but because of the limitations everything actually makes sense. So it’s not really a valid comparison. Except that in the world that we are entering, maybe most “computer” users really don’t need the flexibility and options that workhorse operating systems like windows or linux aren’t really important for end users anymore?

    And android is linux about as much as iOS is bsd. Well, maybe a bit more, but not much. The chrome matters SO much more to end users than the kernel.

  31. “if you’re a Linux enthusiast, you may want to stop reading now…”
    Please, don’t you think you are rather childish, frankly.

  32. What a biased pile of crap article. By that logic Android should be at the top yet somehow it doesn’t get a mention?

  33. It’s obvious that hardly anyone uses linux and it is no threat to the consumer markets. Otherwise you’d have people posting rediculous articles about how something like Apples ipad has already surpassed use of the Linux desktop based on skewed unfounded web statistics.

    You don’t see that type of article because linux is a niche OS for tinkerers and no threat to such cool products like those that Apple make…


  34. @Martin Hill,
    On behalf of us linux users that are not also IDIOTS, thanks for sharing your interesting charts and graphs.
    My apologies for the bozos posting who say that are linux users but apparently read the headline, nothing else, and then started flaming away.
    Guys! Get a life! Linux is not a religion. You’re making us look as bad as the Fandroids and the Apple Fanbois and the Windows.. uh.. I don’t know what you call a Windows zealot. Hey! There you go… and the Windows Zealots. Linux users are supposed to be the SMART ones that really “get it.”
    Linux. I got it, I get it, I got over it.

    and, NO, BSD, or even FreeBSD, is NOT LINUX! (where do these morons come from?)
    A Windows (3.0/3.11/95/98/2000/XP/7), Unix, Solaris, Mac (yes, I use Terminal), Ubuntu, Debian, Suse, Symbian, Blackberry, but not yet iOS user.

  35. I cringe every time a story appears proclaiming Windows or some other OS or contraption has greater market share than Linux.

    In this case, the writer is comparing a device to an operating system (OS) software – how ludicrous.

    If I am using Linux for my needs and tech functions, and the software runs reliably, securely, handles all the applications important to me, is fast, looks good with my KDE desktop – then what difference does it make how many Apple iPADs are sold.

    I am interested in a pad for presentations, but know that the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy II S 7″ model is perfect size – don’t need or want 10″, is comparatively lower priced, can communicate vey efficiently with my groupware server, that it is ridiculous for these pundits to write stupid topics for readership. Where is intelligent, informative and thought provoking technology journalism?

  36. I’ll be simple.
    1. The iPad is a gadget. I have one in fact. I use it when I’m too tired to sit anymore (around 2AM) so I can keep working/web surfing in my bed. Please note that I do not surf as much on desktops because those allow me to do more then surf and use limited apps. The statistic is immediately irrelevant.
    2. Linux is less used to surf the web. Yet the web is based on it. If the iPad replaced linux’s function as server, the Internet will become an empty template.
    3. Just a note to all: android runs the Linux kernel. BSD does not.
    4. I want everyone to remember that to make an actual statistic of this sort (not a wasteful web kind), one would have to track Linux users. Since browsing the web is a form of Linux using (show me a windows/Mac/solaris/etc host, and I will define lag) anyone on your statistic used Linux. But actual trackage of people that use it on their personal computer is IMPOSSIBLE. Simply because, unlike apple and windows, Linux doesn’t limit their users or track them in any way; your computer, your decisions.
    5. I am a user of windows (iOS as I am writing from an iPad, it’s past 2AM now XD), and Linux (I also gave reactOS a try, but I’m waiting for a beta). I’m not a rabbit of any of these OS. Each has a specific use for me. Linux is the most efficient of the gang, using it I can get work done well. But I use windows for sever applications (e.g. Trillian, multiple games etc.) as well as compilation (I’m a programmer). iOS is there for when you have time to waste, traveling, slowly falling asleep etc. Honestly, iOS (and macs alike) are useful, in their own way, but they are the ones not ready for desktop use.
    6. About Linux users being savvy, it’s quite easy to explain. Savvy and smart people want an effective system, with maximal control and minimal limitations. The UNIX based Linux is JUST that. Windows is ok, as it still gives you a bit of control, macs and iOS are limited to the limit. I call this the bipolarity of software, user friendly to user centric. People having no idea what to do will prefer a limited, simple, user friendly OS like iOS. People that understand a bit more (say, people that know what A4 means, lol) will like the idea of windows, they don’t need the absolute freedom of Linux. The people that realize what can be done, how and why. The same people that tend to over clock their hardware, or do “magical (to mac users)” tricks on console, aka savvy people, will prefer the powerful system the UNIX Linux provides.
    7. All this to get to usage. As I demonstrated, the usage statistic demonstrated here is irrelevant. A real one would be impossible to perform. Yet is known that Linux is used pretty much every single second (if there is a single second when NO person in the world is surfing the web, call me), I think it is safe to assume that it is more widely used then iOS (that is only popular in the drag&drop land called USA).

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