Since its first release in April 2010, the Apple iPad has grown gradually from a novelty gadget to the most recognizable contender in the tablet format. According to NetMarketShare, the device now comprises over 1 percent of international Web traffic, and double that within the U.S.
The numbers tell the gist of the story. Traffic from the iPad’s version of iOS rose steadily in its first five months, until a robust holiday season propelled a 72-percent jump between November and January. Plateauing briefly as buyers anticipated the model’s second generation, iPad traffic has again kept double-digit growth since March.
This growth is especially significant given the iPad’s competition on two fronts. Within the tablet format, Apple has fared well against the first wave of rivals including Samsung, Motorola, and BlackBerry, most of which run on Google’s Android OS. But across formats, the iPad has thrived in the increasingly cannibalized space between smartphones and laptops.
In the short term, Apple should be able to sustain its lead position in the tablet platform, barring any unexpected developments. But looking further, the iPad’s fortunes will likely be tied to whether tablets, as a whole, can compete with other Internet-capable devices.