iPad Makes its Market Share Mark: Report

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Web metrics firm Net Applications report for April reinforces the growing perception that Apple holds its future in its hands, as opposed to it being on the desk or the lap.

Both OS X and Safari for the Mac continue to show tepid growth compared to iPhone OS, and the iPad appears to be the latest example of that trend.

At the end of April, iPad market share as measured by web browsing, is at 0.03 percent, which may seem insignificant, but that is exactly what the original iPhone had after its first month. I think we all know how that turned out.

While the iPad went as high as 0.08 percent during April, the weekend spiking probably has more to do with how Net Applications gathers data, rather than a shift in iPad usage. Looking further into the data, the iPad’s U.S. share was quadruple the international number at 0.12 percent, which makes sense as the international launch of the iPad won’t be until later this month. That likely bodes well for the iPad, though. As more countries sell the iPad, not to mention the addition of the 3G model, share will quickly increase worldwide.

Within the U.S. itself, the top five states for iPad usage, ranging from 0.19 percent to 0.16 percent, were Hawaii, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Nebraska of all places. The least popular state for the iPad was Wyoming, which matched the global average of 0.03 percent. Not surprisingly, San Francisco saw more usage than any other city.

Looking at the bigger picture, the introduction of the iPad, plus increased share for both the iPhone and iPod touch, boosted iPhone OS to 0.68 percent share in April. While that is insignificant compared to Windows at more than 90 percent, or even OS X for the Mac at 5.32 percent, iPhone OS is closing in on Linux at 1.05 percent—you are going down, penguin!

Looking at iPhone OS from the mobile perspective says more about web browsing on the go than units sold. Even though BlackBerry and Symbian are available on more devices sold, the browsing experience is a painful one, hence the lead by iPhone OS devices.

The free and low-end Java Micro Edition likely holds the overall lead because with more than a billion cell phones sold a year, quantity still matters. Nonetheless, iPhone OS will likely become the leading mobile OS this year, at least as measured by Net Applications. It also should be noted that Android has increased share by nearly an order of magnitude since last year at this time, and that could be trouble for Apple.

Those skeptical of Google’s ability to disrupt the mobile OS market and threaten Apple might want to review what happened with desktop web browsers. Chrome will almost certainly double Safari’s share by the end of the year. Safari, now at 4.72 percent, has been stuck between four and five percent for nearly a year. In contrast, Chrome has more than tripled its share in the last year, and now stands at 6.73 percent.

With the advent of Chrome OS, that may prove to be trouble for OS X for the Mac. At 5.32 percent, OS X for the desktop is up about half a percent over last year, but the dominance of Windows appears unassailable, at least for Apple. The best that can be said for OS X for the Mac is that Snow Leopard has finally surpassed Leopard as the most used version of OS X. Snow Leopard has 43 percent share to Leopard’s 40 percent, with Tiger a distant third at 13 percent. With Apple’s singular focus on iPhone OS at WWDC10, it appears Snow Leopard will have plenty of time to gain OS X market share before OS X 10.7 INSERT_CAT_NAME_HERE is released.

While April’s report by Net Applications has plenty of good news for Apple, we are also seeing the beginning of the end of an era. The Mac is becoming less and less important to Apple’s business model. The iPhone and the iPod provide roughly double the revenue of the Mac, and the success of the iPad will only further decrease the importance of the Mac to Apple. This isn’t to say the Mac is doomed, but that its preeminence at Apple is at an end, if not among Mac faithful.

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