Microsoft's tablet ambitions keep taking baby steps towards the mainstream. On Tuesday, Chitika Insights sent me a report outlining some usage stats for the Surface RT and Surface 2, and surprise! The Windows RT-based Surface variants send almost as much traffic Chitika's way as Nook or Nexus tablets do.
The numbers aren't all rosy for the tablet that wants to be a laptop, however. While use of the original Surface RT surged following its price drop to $350 and overall Surface usage has continued to climb since, to 6.4 percent of all non-iPad North American traffic, Chitika's latest report claims that very little of that traffic comes from Microsoft's second-gen slate. More than a month after its release, the Surface 2 generates just 6.5 percent of the Surface line's 6.4 percent usage share.
That's not exactly shocking. While the Surface Pro 2 is a pretty rocking laptop/tablet hybrid, the ARM-based Surface 2 is a pricey (if gorgeous) tablet that requires you to drop another $120-plus on a keyboard accessory to tap into its full potential, and it's limited to the tablet apps found in the Windows Store. Basically, the Surface 2 is a speedier Surface RT redux--and the original Surface RT is still being sold for $350, a much more palatable price point for a mainstream slate. CNET reported that few people bought Surface 2 tablets at Microsoft's small handful of midnight launch events.
Chitika's numbers are pretty glum for everybody except Apple if you pull back a bit further. The ad network excluded iPad usage stats from the overall tablet Web traffic in this report to provide clarity on the non-Apple market--and the iPad accounts for a whopping 80 percent of all traffic tablets send Chitika's way.
In other words: The Surface slates account for 6.4 percent of a 20 percent slice of the traffic pie, and the Surface 2 accounts for just 6.5 percent of that--or far, far under 1 percent of the total traffic hitting Chitika's ad network.
But hey, like I said: Baby steps. Surface usage may be miniscule overall, but it continues to climb, and the Surface RT has long been the single most-used Windows 8 device in the land, according to AdDuplex's stats. And last year, Surface slates sent Chitika 1/7th as much web traffic as the Nexus line--a gap that Microsoft closed rapidly in just 11 short months.
No matter how optimistically or pessimistically you look at the data, though, one thing's for certain: Every tablet manufacturer has a long way to go to catch the iPad in North America. Rumors of Apple's impending doom have been greatly exaggerated.