This past holiday season represented the cap on yet another banner year for the sales of mobile devices, and subsequent usage figures exemplify this flurry of activity. After examining changes in North American Web traffic share, we found that Amazon and Microsoft had the most promising holiday seasons within the tablet marketplace while Apple was the only manufacturer to gain usage share amongst all major smartphone competitors. Although these figures help identify the overall trend within the North American market, keep in mind that the precise traffic share changes observed directly following Christmas are likely to moderate slightly in the coming weeks and months as usage returns to non-holiday levels. Chitika Insights tracked this phenomena last holiday season as part of a 2013 white paper.
To quantify this latest report, Chitika Insights surveyed a sample of tens of millions of smartphone and tablet online ad impressions from the Chitika network. This study was drawn from a date range of December 20 to December 29, 2013, and only includes Web traffic generated within the U.S. and Canada.
As seen above, Apple experienced diverging fortunes when it came to post-Christmas usage share changes in 2013. The iPhone was the only smartphone to exhibit usage share gains in the wake of the holiday (+1.8%), likely indicating that its latest set of 5S and 5C devices remained a hit with consumers. Meanwhile, the iPad’s tablet usage share slipped by 1.3 percentage points against its competitors, which could be partially due to the tablet’s higher price point directing people to other brands for the purposes of gift giving. However, in both the smartphone and tablet spaces, Apple users still generate the highest share North American Web traffic as compared to any other manufacturer.
In the tablet space, share gains by Amazon and Microsoft, among others, contributed to the slight iPad drop. With the increase, the Kindle Fire has continued its remarkable run to the top of the Android tablet marketplace – it’s the second year in a row in which the tablet family has posted the largest post-Christmas tablet usage share gain.
Microsoft’s Surface lineup also continued its impressive year end run. Surface users generated more tablet traffic than all Google Nexus tablet users following the holiday, making Microsoft the fourth-largest source of continental tablet Web traffic should it maintain the lion’s share of this latest share growth.
Comparing the full set of figures to what we observed in 2012, consistencies emerge. Raw ad impression volume increases suggest that smartphones undoubtedly remain a popular gift for many, but the resulting relatively minor share changes indicate that the continental smartphone marketplace has largely reached maturity. Expect only minor volatility going forward. On the other end of the spectrum, volume changes for tablets have been larger following the holidays, and the market has experienced more dramatic share variations. This exemplifies the growing nature of tablets domestically along with the vibrant competitive environment. While Apple’s iPad is unlikely to relinquish its crown as top driver of tablet Web traffic in the forseeable future, Amazon’s Kindle Fire has performed very well for a second consecutive year, and Microsoft’s notable year-over-year rise in the space, from 0.4% share to 2.3%, underscores the market’s more “wide open” nature.