Chitika Insights’ last report on the Microsoft Surface observed steady, moderate usage share growth for the tablet family within North America. Since that time, retailers like eBay and Best Buy unveiled temporary discounts on the Surface RT model. These discounts seem to have received a very positive response from consumers. The Surface RT was Best Buy’s top selling device on Black Friday according to research firm Infoscout, and our most recent usage statistics point to a substantial usage share boost for the tablet around the sale dates. This recent growth has resulted in Microsoft Surface Web usage surpassing that of Barnes and Noble’s Nook, making it the fifth-largest tablet traffic source in North America behind Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and Google.
To quantify the usage share of Microsoft Surface RT and Surface 2, Chitika Insights sampled tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian non-iPad tablet online ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network. The data used within the most recent analysis were drawn from impressions catalogued across the time frame of October 23 through December 14, 2013. Data points are plotted on the basis of a seven-day rolling average. Each point represents the average usage share over the previous seven day time period.
The data point out a substantial usage share boost for the tablet family following Black Friday/Cyber Monday. That being said, Surface usage still represents less than 2% of all North American tablet Web traffic. As iPad users generate approximately 80% of total North American tablet Web traffic, Chitika Insights examined Surface’s usage share in the context of all non-iPad tablet Web traffic for the purposes of clarity.
Breaking down Surface Web traffic by device version, Surface 2 experienced a moderate, but steady rate of growth within the Surface ecosystem leading up to Black Friday weekend. Following that unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, Surface 2 share dropped slightly and then leveled off. This is likely due to heavier adoption of the discounted Surface RT over that time frame.
Consumer response to discounted Surface RTs has been extremely positive, but usage data show that Surface 2, and its higher price point, have not been as well received. While usage growth for the Surface 2 has largely been steady, it has not accelerated during this lead up to the holidays like its older counterpart.
Overall, the higher share of the tablet usage environment is good for Microsoft, but Surface RT usage has grown the most when the device is being sold between $199 and lower – which is close to $75 below the unit manufacturing cost according to data from iSuppli. Although Amazon sells its Kindle devices at below cost with the aim of generating a profit thanks to on-device content purchases, it’s unclear as to whether Microsoft is pursuing something similar in regards to Office suite purchases on its Surface RT devices. Regardless, Microsoft’s moderate but continued progress in the space underscores the company’s long-term strategy when it comes to the tablet marketplace. In the immediate future, Chitika Insights will be tracking the industry-wide trends as they develop this holiday season, building on the previous measurements and analysis from 2012.