In late June 2014, Costco began offering Apple iPhone and iPad models for the first time in over a year, and did so at substantial discounts. Subsequent tablet usage statistics likely indicate that this expansion of distribution, along with the some more modest promotions, are at least partially responsible for driving the iPad’s first quarter-over-quarter usage share gain since June 2013.
The portion of tablet Web traffic generated by Amazon Kindle Fire users also increased in the wake of a series of promotions from the online retailer in Q2 2014. This most recent growth pushed the Kindle Fire user base ahead of Samsung’s in terms of total Web traffic generated, a designation Amazon has not held since Q1 2014.
To determine the distribution of Web usage among leading tablet devices for early July 2014, Chitika Insights sampled tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian tablet-based online ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network. The data used to compile current usage share were drawn across the time range of July 1 through 7, 2014. The historical year-over-year data were drawn across the time range of July 1 through 7, 2013.
Since April 2014, the share of tablet Web traffic generated by North American Apple iPad and Kindle Fire users has increased by 0.8 and 1.2 percentage points, respectively. These represent the two largest quarter-over-quarter increases for any tablet brand, while Samsung’s user base exhibited the largest share loss over the same timeframe, dropping two full percentage points.
Despite these changes at the top, the overall tablet usage environment remains very similar to what was observed earlier in the year. Aggregate Web usage from Apple’s iPad users remains substantially higher than that of any other competitor, with Amazon and Samsung representing a second-tier above the remaining manufacturers.
Outside those three largest players, none experienced a share increase or decrease beyond 0.2 percentage points since the previous study. However, looking at year-over-year trends, many of these less popular brands do exhibit usage share increases since 2013 – a positive sign for the long-term health of those device makers in the tablet market.
The most impressive newcomer is Verizon’s self-branded Ellipsis tablet, which was launched in late 2013 as one of the least expensive 4G-enabled tablets available. The tablet is now offered for free with a two-year contract from Verizon, and has impressively captured a 0.4% share after slightly more than 8 months on the market, blowing by legacy brands like Motorola in the process.
As the holiday season slowly approaches, it’s anticipated that a number of new tablet offerings will begin to make their way to the North American market. While new devices can certainly energize some current and potential customers, the most recent usage share increases were at least partially driven simply by discount-oriented promotions or expanded availability of existing models. Analysts have pointed to slowing tablet market growth in North America, adding that consumers are feeling less “compelled to upgrade the same way they did in years past.” Should this hold true, creative pricing and promotional models may make a growing impact the tablet market moving forward.