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.
[SHOPPING: Microsoft reveals Black Friday deals for Surface]
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.
This story, "Surface usage continues to climb, no thanks to Surface 2" was originally published by PCWorld.