The Most-Used Tablets of 2013

Analyzing tablet data as it comes out on a quarterly basis can sometimes paint an opaque picture as to who's gaining and who's losing in the space -- not to mention that much of the time reports calculate shipment market share instead of actual usage or sales of devices. So to clear up the current tablet marketplace standings, let's take a look at actual tablet usage for 10 months of 2013 to see which companies are coming out ahead. Spoiler alert: It's Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) .

The iPad is still dominating usage stats
Analytics company Mixpanel used millions of tablet record data between February and December of this year to calculate that Apple holds the lead over Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF  ) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )  in the tablet space. You'll see from the graph below that Apple grabs five out of the top six tablet usage spots, and even the three-year-old first-generation iPad made it to the top six spot. 

Data Source: Mixpanel.

It's also important to mention that the Samsung Galaxy Note usage numbers include the Note, Note II, Note 3, Note 8.0, and Note 10.1. So while Samsung managed to take the No. 2 spot in usage, it did so using five versions of its tablet.

iPad Air. Source: Apple.

Samsung and Google are obviously huge competitors to Apple, and Samsung has made lots of inroads in the tablet industry, but the graph shows that the two companies still have a long way to go in tackling Apple's dominance. This matches up with Mixpanel data released in October that showed iOS made up 67% of tablet usage, while Android took just 33%.

Aside from Apple's dominant usage numbers this year, the recent release of the iPad Air should keep Apple ahead of Samsung and Google going into 2014. Since its launch, users have adopted the iPad Air at a faster rate than they did the iPad 4. Carriers have experienced iPad Air success as well. AT&T  (NYSE: T  ) saw its iPad activations triple with the iPad Air compared to the previous iPad's launch weekend.

Though usage statistics and adoption rates aren't equal to sales, it's important for investors to measure how quickly new products like the Air are being adopted and how iPad models stack up to their competitors' usage. Apple not only makes a significant amount of revenue from its tablets -- the Air has estimated profit margins between 45% and 61% -- but also from app purchases. The higher the usage numbers, the more likely iPad users are to be purchasing apps and services that Apple can earn revenue from. One thing Apple investors should continue to watch going into 2014 is for reports of how the iPad Air was received over the holiday season. Apple traditionally has solid fourth-quarter iPad sales, and hopefully this year won't disappoint.

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  • Report this Comment On December 25, 2013, at 6:34 PM, JaredPorter wrote:

    It looks like if you aggregate iPads vs all others, Apple still has over 75% of all usage. Also, isn't the Galaxy Note series as much an enlarged smart phone as it is a "tablet"? Such devices may be classified in other, overlapping categories, I assume.

  • Report this Comment On December 25, 2013, at 6:50 PM, secularinvestor wrote:

    This survey is an obvious attempt to try to artificially boost Samsung’s apparent share of the tablet market.

    Firstly, they classify the Note as a tablet, which it isn’t. I have not seen a single survey previously which classifies the Note as a tablet. It is almost always grouped with the Galaxy smartphones in an attempt to boost Samsung’s high end smartphones share. Now they are trying to use it to cover up Samsung’s total failure in tablets.

    Secondly they group together ALL Notes as though they were one, and compare that to iPads which are all shown as different segments.

    Far more reliable are the web usage figures from Adfonics which show that iPads global share is 76% and Galaxy tablets with only 8.2%. Chitiika, which show that iPads have over 80% share of the North American Market, with Galaxy tablets around just 6% despite huge discounts and 2 for 1 promotions.

    Adfonics survey also show that iPhones have 49.0% global smartphone share, many times that of Galaxies.

    Interestingly they found that the iPod Touch had 8.6% global share, which is as more than the web usage of both the Galaxy S3 and S4 smartphones combined. The Galaxy Note 2 only registered 0.9%.

    All reports indicate that the new iPhones and new iPads are great successes and so likely to increase Apple’s smartphone and tablet market share in the newt 2 Quarters.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2013, at 10:39 AM, StonehamMel wrote:

    I have to agree with the comment re lumping the Galaxy Note(s) as tablets. Collectively, they may be significant, but they are invariably loss leaders where sold.

    Thee continuing expansion of the iOS footprint in mobile computing, especially in enterprise and education, hasn't been touched at all by Android. This is a critical generation of students going through American education into industry, where apps enabling easy "content creation" are the new rule.

    Rather than debating solely the iOS vs Android issue, one cannot help but note the absence of the Microsoft Surface from the table. With more than a billion dollars lost in that venture to date, one suspects that a Ballmer successor will finally send this effort off to the Zune dustbin, and attempt to hang onto a Windows market as it seeks to build its enterprise software/support business.

    But don't be surprised if AAPL rains further on the MSFT enterprise parade. The new Mac Pro shows capabilities to crack that business too - not just as desktops, but as the basis for new enterprise computing systems running OSX.

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