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11/27/2013
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Microsoft Surface Barely Registers On Web Usage

Microsoft Surface tablets are still getting crushed by the iPad, web use data shows.

Microsoft's ARM-powered Surface tablets have become more popular in North America in the month since the Surface 2 debuted. But the growth has stemmed as much from price cuts to the original model, the Surface RT, as from demand for the new version. The devices also generated less than one-sixtieth the web traffic generated by Apple's iPads.

Those are the conclusions of a report released Wednesday by the online ad network Chitika. It tracked web use among North American tablet users for the four weeks following the Surface 2's Oct. 22 launch, focusing on tablets other than iPads. It found that the Surface RT and Surface 2 combined for 6.5% of all non-iPad tablet traffic.

The Surface RT was responsible for most of this traffic -- 93.6% of combined Surface RT/Surface 2 use. Given that the Surface RT has been available much longer than the Surface 2, it is not surprising that it accounts for more traffic, but the disparity is striking.

[ How does the Surface 2 stack up against the iPad Air? Read iPad Air vs. Surface 2: 9 Considerations. ]

When iPads are included, the ARM-based Surface line was responsible for less than 1.3% of total tablet web use, Chitika said. The Surface 2 accounted for less than 0.083%.

It should be pointed out that use share is only one measure of tablet performance. In marketshare, IDC reports that iPads accounted for less than 30% of third-quarter shipments. Chitika draws statistics from millions of ad impressions spread across a network of more than 300,000 sites.

Apple CEO Tim Cook frequently cites use statistics when dismissing the marketshare that iOS devices have lost to Android-based competitors, which now account for more than half of all tablet shipments. Cook's argument is that most Android tablets are low-cost "junk" devices that end up unused in the owner's desk drawer. Apple's tablets, in contrast, tap into arguably the most developed mobile ecosystem on the market, so iPads represent revenue streams and developer opportunities that outpace their relatively modest slice of the market.

Whether or not you buy Cook's premise, marketshare statistics don't flatter the Surface tablets any more than use figures do. IDC said in October that Windows slates still lack consumer support, and that Microsoft was not one of the top five tablet vendors during the third quarter. It did not specify Microsoft's marketshare, but it reported that fifth-place Acer shipped 1.2 million tablets, which was good enough for only 2.5% of the market.

Microsoft's Surface 2.
Microsoft's Surface 2.

But Chitika's numbers affirm that the Surface is improving, slowly but steadily. The Surface RT hit the market with a thud, forcing Microsoft to declare a nearly $1 billion writedown on unsold inventory. But the company slashed prices in July, bringing the base configuration to $349, and it has said that sales have improved since then. Chitika's numbers support this story; the device accounted for only 3.3% of non-iPad web traffic in June, but that figure had grown to 5.7% by the end of September.

This suggests the Surface line's upward trajectory has been motivated by falling prices as much as the Surface's vastly improved package. The extent to which Windows RT 8.1 has made the original Surface RT more usable is another consideration.

Still, the 0.7 percentage points Microsoft has gained since launching the Surface 2 fare relatively well compared to at least one key competitor. Amazon's Kindle devices lost 1.8 percentage points during the same period.

That said, Chitika found that, excluding Apple, Kindles were the most used tablets in North America, with almost one-third of non-iPad traffic. Samsung ranked second, with almost 29.6% -- an improvement of 2.1 percentage points that Chitika attributed to new models. Google was third (8.2%), followed by Barnes & Noble (7%), and Microsoft (6.4%).

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/27/2013 | 9:16:37 AM
MS Surface usage numbers
You don't see that many of these in the wild yet. If anyone traveling today sees one in an airport, write us here.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
11/27/2013 | 10:41:15 AM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
I've only seen one Surface product in the wild, exclduing my own device, of course, and those I've seen at Microsoft events--e.g. almost everyone had a Surface RT at TechEd because Microsoft was selling them to attendees for only $99. But otherwise, I see tons of Macs and iPads around San Francisco, but I've only seen a handful of Windows 8 devices of any type out in the wild. I spend a decent amount of time around Stanford and Berkeley, and these trends seem true of students too.

I expect this will change in coming months, though. Windows tablets aren't going to be as ubiquitous as iPads, but the new devices, such as Dell's 8-inch Venue Pro, are a lot nicer than anything that was on the market at this time last year. The Surface 2 is a lot nicer than its predecessor too, but I'm not sure it has the cost-to-performance ratio to break out in such a competitive landscape.

Any others had different experiences? Any places out there where Win 8 tablets are taking over?
UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 11:03:03 AM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
The Surface isn't popular.  It is no secret, people don't buy it.  I peraonally attribute a lot of the problem to Windows 8, which is widely hated (and the RT issue is confusing to many buyers), but there's just not a compelling cost/benefit story here.  Why would I buy a M$ tablet when there are so many good Android tablets, as well as the iPads for those willing to join the iBorg.  Would it be the smaller app store, the higher prices, or the clown-makeup UI that would attract me? 

 

All that said, then, why are the writers for IW trying so hard to find a success story?  The failure of Win8RT tablets is old news.
UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 11:03:34 AM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
The Surface isn't popular.  It is no secret, people don't buy it.  I peraonally attribute a lot of the problem to Windows 8, which is widely hated (and the RT issue is confusing to many buyers), but there's just not a compelling cost/benefit story here.  Why would I buy a M$ tablet when there are so many good Android tablets, as well as the iPads for those willing to join the iBorg.  Would it be the smaller app store, the higher prices, or the clown-makeup UI that would attract me? 

 

All that said, then, why are the writers for IW trying so hard to find a success story?  The failure of Win8RT tablets is old news.
UberGoober
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100%
UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 11:04:45 AM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
The Surface isn't popular.  It is no secret, people don't buy it.  I peraonally attribute a lot of the problem to Windows 8, which is widely hated (and the RT issue is confusing to many buyers), but there's just not a compelling cost/benefit story here.  Why would I buy a M$ tablet when there are so many good Android tablets, as well as the iPads for those willing to join the iBorg.  Would it be the smaller app store, the higher prices, or the clown-makeup UI that would attract me? 

 

All that said, then, why are the writers for IW trying so hard to find a success story?  The failure of Win8RT tablets is old news.
UberGoober
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100%
UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 11:04:56 AM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
The Surface isn't popular.  It is no secret, people don't buy it.  I peraonally attribute a lot of the problem to Windows 8, which is widely hated (and the RT issue is confusing to many buyers), but there's just not a compelling cost/benefit story here.  Why would I buy a M$ tablet when there are so many good Android tablets, as well as the iPads for those willing to join the iBorg.  Would it be the smaller app store, the higher prices, or the clown-makeup UI that would attract me? 

 

All that said, then, why are the writers for IW trying so hard to find a success story?  The failure of Win8RT tablets is old news.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/27/2013 | 4:00:45 PM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
For what it's worth, Chromebooks barely register in web usage stats too.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2013 | 12:39:14 AM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
@Thomas

 

Yeah, no kidding about Chromebooks. Looking at my own website stats for the last month or so, Chrome OS is joint bottom of the OS list. In fact, there's a cluster at the bottom that looks like this:

 
  • Chrome OS
  • Blackberry
  • Nokia
  • Windows Phone

 

Android and Linux have the middle ground, cluster close together, then there's another jump to a Macintosh and iOS cluster, then way ahead of the rest is Windows. 

 

Not, mind you, that Windows is broken down the way I suspect Microsoft wants. At the top of the list, seven times higher than the next closest, is Windows 7. Then, closely clustered are:

 
  • Windows 8
  • Windows XP
  • Windows NT

 

Then a drop to Vista, then finally Server 2003.

 

It's entirely possible I have zero visitors from a Surface; I'm not sure how I'd know for sure. Ho-hum.
wilsoncreeks
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wilsoncreeks,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2013 | 11:02:26 AM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
You should check large universities since they have become very abundant as far as I can tell.  There is multiple students with them in every class I have attended this semester and some professors are using the pro with powerpoint to annotate lecture slides as they teach.  Makes it very appealing.
pmperry
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pmperry,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2013 | 11:19:42 PM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
My brother and I each bought one yesterday!  We had to go to like 5 stores to find one and then we bought the last two. 


Every Staples, Best Buy, and Tiger Direct, in my area, sold out of the $249 kits and they were sold out online as well. 

 

After using it all day today, I have to say the Surface had only one real issue and that was pricing!  Of course the touch keyboard is horrible as well.

 

Either way, the tablet is great and the inclusion of Office (Including Outlook) makes for a great buy!
pmperry
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pmperry,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2013 | 11:23:29 PM
Re: MS Surface usage numbers
Oh and one more note...  The Surface RT 32 Gig was the number 1 selling item for the Black Friday weekend at Best Buy.
UberGoober
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100%
UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 11:06:23 AM
Why do we care?
The Surface isn't popular.  It is no secret, people don't buy it.  I peraonally attribute a lot of the problem to Windows 8, which is widely hated (and the RT issue is confusing to many buyers), but there's just not a compelling cost/benefit story here.  Why would I buy a M$ tablet when there are so many good Android tablets, as well as the iPads for those willing to join the iBorg.  Would it be the smaller app store, the higher prices, or the clown-makeup UI that would attract me? 

 

All that said, then, why are the writers for IW trying so hard to find a success story?  The failure of Win8RT tablets is old news.
UberGoober
0%
100%
UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 11:07:26 AM
Why do we care?
The Surface isn't popular.  It is no secret, people don't buy it.  I peraonally attribute a lot of the problem to Windows 8, which is widely hated (and the RT issue is confusing to many buyers), but there's just not a compelling cost/benefit story here.  Why would I buy a M$ tablet when there are so many good Android tablets, as well as the iPads for those willing to join the iBorg.  Would it be the smaller app store, the higher prices, or the clown-makeup UI that would attract me? 

 

All that said, then, why are the writers for IW trying so hard to find a success story?  The failure of Win8RT tablets is old news.
Stephane Parent
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Stephane Parent,
User Rank: Moderator
11/27/2013 | 3:44:15 PM
Surface 1?
The article talks about numbers for the Surface RT and Surface 2. What about the Surface 1, aka Surface Pro?

Are the numbers included under Surface 2?

Has anyone figured out if it's the RT or Pro version that are shown on Grey's Anatomy
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2013 | 5:00:44 PM
Kindle lives up to loss leader billing
Amazon's investment in the Kindle and Kindle Fire appear to be not only plowing money into a loss leader but a loss leader that's losing ground.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2013 | 10:45:53 PM
Re: Kindle lives up to loss leader billing
I terms of the Kinlde, Amazon's goal is to sell content via hardware. They care less about the hardware itself. 

So I find it interesting, this critique of Amazon versus Microsoft's strategy. Maybe Microsoft should think about the Surface devices as a conduit to other sales from content. They have to get away from the hardware/software model, that's just not going to work. 
PaulS217
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PaulS217,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2013 | 3:12:52 PM
Wrong Use Case
MSFT's initial marketing of the Surface was a disaster.  They went after the wrong demographic.  The Surface never will be a cool machine.  It's a business device.  With business-oriented use case (think MS-Office) the platform rocks.   When traveling I've stopped bringing my laptop along and work exclusively from the Surface.
anon6815691246
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anon6815691246,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2013 | 3:00:08 PM
Web traffic now determines use?
Has everyone suddenly become 12 years old? I guess if your life starts and ends with an app that constantly needs to broadcast everything about you, perhaps.

Answe the simple question. If your device has all the productivity apps that don't rely on some cloud service, how would anyone know you were using it? To write a letter, play some music, watch a video you must connect to the Internet? Really?

I can write letters, create publications/presentations, code, watch a video, play my favorite music, manage my calendar, make phone calls, take and edit pictures and not once connect to the Internet to generate traffic. How can this happen? Simple, local applications.

When web traffic became some kind of metric anyone would consider, look what happened. People nowadays can't do anything with an iPhone, Android device without being connected to the Internet and generating traffic.

When you sit down to watch a movie on TV, do you open all the doors and windows so that everyone knows you are watching TV? Think about it. Why on earth would you want your device to generate web traffic everytime you did something?

 
Faye__Kane
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Faye__Kane,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2013 | 1:01:12 AM
Re: Web traffic now determines use?
 

==-

"People nowadays can't do anything with an iPhone, Android device without being connected to the Internet and generating traffic."

So what?


"When you sit down to watch a movie on TV, do you open all the doors and windows so that everyone knows you are watching TV?"

What does that have to do with anything? You could say the same for eating dinner or playing cards.

 

"Why on earth would you want your device to generate web traffic everytime you did something?"

Because everything you want to do involves generating web traffic.

-faye kane girl brain ♀
Faye__Kane
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Faye__Kane,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2013 | 12:56:23 AM
More routine Ballmer dishonesty
 ==-

"Cook's argument is that most Android tablets are low-cost "junk" devices that end up unused in the owner's desk drawer."

How rude! 

And just why does he think that most Android users never use their tablet or smartphone when Android's share of the tablet market is 59%, 80% in the smartphone market?

That statement is just more propaganda paid for by Ballmer's marketing department.

--faye kane girl brain
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
12/2/2013 | 2:45:17 PM
Give it some time
Am I correct saying that the stats of the article are from just one month? (10/23/13 to 11/23/13) Surface 2 will get better.
Let's do another check after the holidays. Perhaps then, we can have a good idea where the market is heading.
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