I watched the iPad introduction this morning on my iPhone, and I was really struck by one statistic cited by Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO: 84% of all tablet usage is on iPads. All other makes of tablets combined only account for 16% of usage. Here’s a chart comparing the iPad with its nearest competitors.
If this is true (we’ll discuss that below), should it affect your decision about which tablets to get for your organization? I’d say yes. The big argument I hear, still, about tablets is whether they are tools or toys. Well, if you get it and play with it for a couple of weeks, then put it away, it’s a toy. That’s pretty much what I did with my first-edition Kindle Fire. On the other hand, my daughter uses her iPad so much that she now only uses her iPhone for voice and text. I should also note that when I switched from my BlackBerry to my iPhone, my smartphone usage skyrocketed because of all the new things I did. In my practice, as doctors say, the device influences usage a lot.
Now a sample size of one or two isn’t that great. Also, usability doesn’t always make a difference. A lot of people thought the Mac was easier to use than Windows, but the Mac still got creamed. Tablets are significantly different from desktop PCs, however. Arguably, the integration of hardware and software matters more in a small, portable device.
So how true is this statistic? A little Internet research revealed that the number comes from the Chitika Online Advertising Network. They have a report, complete with a methodology section. Usage means Website usage, and it’s based on about 300,000 Website visits during a two-week period. They are also only for usage in the U.S. and Canada. So a more restrained statistic would be that 84% of all Website usage in the U.S. and Canada for two weeks last June by tablets was by iPads. Further research from other vendors supports the Chitika estimates, except that the difference between iOS and Android seems to be less outside the U.S., although Android has yet to achieve a majority anywhere.
I’m willing to accept Web usage as a pretty good indicator of overall usage, particularly since it would be pretty hard to measure total usage directly. The next question is whether the statistic just reflects more iPads being out there. After all, the iPad had a big early lead in tablet adoption. An article I saw in Forbes said that by 2012, the total number of Android tablets and iOS tablets was about the same. By now, there are probably more Android tablets. The Chitika figures were about the same last year as this, however. If anything, changing ownership patterns hasn’t affected things, since the percentage of iPads has gone down, but the percentage of use is slightly up from 2012.
Using a 50-50 split between Android tablets and iPads as a rough estimate on which to base some more numbers seems about right, if anything a bit unfair to Apple. If 50% of users have 16% of the use, and the other 50 percent has 84% of the use, then the iPads are being used a bit more than five times as much. The statistic, after some fact-checking, holds up, at least for now. I can speculate on why this may be so. Perhaps all those inexpensive tablets out there make them much easier to buy for gifts to people who won’t use them. Perhaps the 425,000 apps designed specifically for iPad make a difference. Maybe (dare I say it?) iOS is a better operating system.
Speculation is only worth so much. The real question is, “What do you see in your practice?” I’d love to hear.