Tablet Hourly Usage Study: iPad Dominates, Surface Users More Active During Working Hours

Tablet Hourly Usage Study: iPad Dominates, Surface Users More Active During Working Hours

  • 12 February 2014

Microsoft has positioned its Surface tablets as devices more fit for work activities as compared to those from other manufacturers. The question remains though, are Surface tablets actually being used in work settings more so than iPads or other tablets? Based on North American usage data, the answer is yes –Surface users generate a slightly greater share of their total Web traffic during working hours as compared to iPad or Android tablet users. However, in terms of raw traffic volume, iPad and Android tablet users lead the pack at all hours of the day, and usage patterns among all tablets remain relatively similar overall.

To quantify this study, Chitika Insights analyzed tens of millions of North American tablet-based online ad impressions within the Chitika ad network. The data set analyzed consisted of impressions catalogued from January 20 to February 2, 2014. Hourly usage shares were then calculated based on an average of individual hourly traffic totals seen over the two-week period.

The graph above illustrates how iPad users are far and away the most active tablet user group throughout the day in North America in terms of raw volume. During the peak hour for all tablet Web usage, 9 p.m. ET, iPad users generate more than four times the Web traffic of all continental Android tablet users in the same time frame. While this graph provides a good visualization of the current tablet usage environment overall, additional compelling insights can be gleaned from examining each specific user group’s usage behavior over the course of the day.

As seen above, each respective tablet’s daily traffic volume is graphed in relation to its individual volume peak – the point at which Web traffic from that device’s users is maximized. While no tablet experiences its volume peak during working hours, Microsoft Surface RT and 2 users generate a slightly greater share of their collective daily traffic between the hours of 12-5 p.m. ET as compared to iPad and Android tablet users. The results support the idea that Microsoft’s tablets are generally used more frequently during working hours as compared to its major competitors in the space, but it’s important to note the similarities in all three usage patterns, and that any differences in the precise online activities between user bases cannot be discerned from these data (e.g. e-mail, watching videos, etc.)

Meanwhile, comparing iPad and Android tablet users’ daily usage patterns presents even fewer variations. Differences between the two groups’ hourly usage rates never exceed 6% at any time, and average to 0% over the 24-hour time frame. The largest difference between the two groups is during the traditional morning commute hours, when iPad users exhibit higher usage rates as compared to Android tablet users by several percentage points.

Looking past the larger observation that iPad users generate the majority of North American tablet Web traffic at all hours, these data indicate that iPad and Android tablet users in particular exhibit similar behavior in terms of how they use their tablets to browse the Web throughout the day. This development is likely a reflection of many Android tablets having largely caught up with iPad in terms of functionality and other factors – a trend that is likely to continue even with iPad holding its large raw volume edge. Microsoft’s position is perhaps the most interesting storyline going forward, as the company seems particularly focused on capturing business-oriented and institutional tablet users rather than ordinary consumers. Despite the usage statistics presumably indicating some success for Microsoft in this area, the company has a long way to go before challenging Apple or Google in terms of raw usage volume during working hours.