The iPad will soon account for one twentieth of one percent of the overall OS market. If that sounds infinitesimal, it is, and yet according to Net Applications the iPad now roughly equals the BlackBerry (s rimm) in market share.
However, it’s important to remember that Net Applications data is drawn from some 160 million visitors per month to a worldwide network of sites, rather than counting unit sales. That means it’s not market share so much as web share, which explains how the iPad caught the BlackBerry so quickly. Despite having sold tens of millions of more units, browsing the web on a BlackBerry is painful experience, while the iPad makes it sublime. Nonetheless, since the future is browsing the web on mobile devices, web share numbers today could very well be the market share of tomorrow.
For analysts and bloggers pondering what, exactly, the iPad is for, the above chart pretty much answers the question. It’s a new way to browse the web. With only 500,000 units sold, the iPad is already showing up against its rival siblings the iPod touch and iPhone, which have sold some 35 million and 50 million units respectively. Keep in mind too that both handheld devices are available worldwide, while the iPad will not see international release until May. Since Net Applications uses a worldwide network of web sites to determine market share, it’s quite possible that by the end of June the iPad may surpass the iPod touch in share.
Looking at estimated mobile device numbers for April, which tend to change very little from month to month, the iPad is indeed on par with the BlackBerry, and quickly closing on Android and moribund Windows Mobile. While that’s impressive for a new device sold only in the U.S., the combined iPhone OS share of the market is even more so. It will be around 37 percent, meaning by June at the latest expect iPhone OS to surpass the ubiquitous Java ME as the most used mobile OS, at least according to Net Applications.
Looking past the numbers, for those who purchased an iPad it appears your investment is safe. Just weeks after launch, the iPad is already solidifying its position as viable platform. For those who don’t own an iPad, expect Google (s goog) and Microsoft (s msft) to be scrambling to get a viable competitor in the marketplace as soon as possible. It looks like the tablet is here to stay at last.
Related GigaOM Pro Research: What Does the Future Hold For Browsers?