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Good News for Apple? Tablets Fast Gaining on Smartphones


A new report finds that tablets are eroding smartphones' share of mobile content usage.

As the smartphone market slows, tablets are becoming an increasingly popular way of consuming mobile data, according to the latest report by mobile advertising network Jumptap.

The company found that tablets accounted for 18% of all mobile traffic on its advertising network, which covers 134 million mobile customers in the US and 206 million worldwide, in 2012, which was a sharp increase from 7% in 2011. Of course, smartphones still represented a dominant 78% of the network's traffic, but the company projects that tablets will make up close to one-third of all traffic by the end of this year.

"Advertisers who increase their mobile investment, but leave tablets out of their strategy, will miss close to one-third of the mobile market," said Jumptap in its report.

Earlier in December, research firm IDC had also increased its forecast for tablet sales in 2013 to 172.4 million units from its previous estimate of 164.9 million units, which would see tablets represent only 10% of all smart device sales this year. Considering Jumptap's 29% projection of tablet traffic, that would seem to indicate that users on larger screens spend more time online compared to their smartphone-using counterparts.

Based on Jumpstart's data, Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) and iOS (NASDAQ:AAPL) continue to be the leading mobile platforms, with BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and others like Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT) languishing behind.
The growing popularity of tablets is good news for Apple, at least for now. In the smartphone arena, the Cupertino, California-based company has seen Android, which is powered by Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) devices, become the top player. Gartner highlighted that Android's share of the smartphone market was nearly 70% at the end of 2012, compared to 20% for iOS. In 2011, Android's share was 50% to iOS's 20%.

In the tablet market, however, Apple and its iPad remains the top dog by a considerable distance. IDC noted that Apple's global tablet maret share in the fourth quarter of 2012 was a robust 43.6%, even if that was a drop from 51.7% a year ago.

While Samsung has also become the leading challenger to Apple in the tablet market (its share grew to 15.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 7.9% a year ago), the Korean company has yet to produce a tablet that has captured users' imaginations the way that its Galaxy S smartphones have.

Indeed, Samsung's control of the Android smartphone market share will only grow further in 2013, Jumptap said.

"As Samsung creates more distance between itself and other Android handset brands, it may begin to pose a threat to Google's multi-device model," Matt Duffy, vice president of marketing at Jumptap, said in the report. "Regardless of whether Google puts more muscle behind any other Android handset brand, we believe Samsung will increase its dominance of the Android device market in 2013."

"Advertisers focusing on the Android market should assume that more than 50% of their ads will appear on Samsung smartphones, unless they specifically target other devices," wrote Jumptap.

(See also: Despite Android's Rise, the iPad Remains the Undisputed Top Tablet Among Business Users)

Disclosure: Minyanville has a business relationship with BlackBerry.

Twitter: @sterlingwong
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