Tablet Use for Web Browsing Exceeded Smartphones in 2012

Global internet traffic from tablets has outpaced the traffic from smartphones for the first time, CNet reports. According to Adobe Digital Index, tablets are responsible for 8% of all internet traffic now compared to 7% of smartphones.

Tyler White, who works on the the Digital Index for Adobe, says that even the analysts were surprised at how quickly the tablets gained in popularity. In a blog post accompanying the Index’s release, he noted that the bigger screens make tablets a better browsing tool. The user preference must be very pronounced, since tablets gained on and surpassed phones even though the ownership rates on smartphones are higher at present.

To get these numbers Adobe tracked 100 billion visits to more than 1000 Web sites worldwide since June 2007. While both smartphone and tablet traffic are on the rise, global desktop Web traffic is still king — driving 84 percent of all online use.

What’s interesting about tablet traffic taking off is that the devices are fairly new on the scene. Adobe only added them to its category list three years ago and the first Apple iPad was introduced in 2010, while the first Kindle Firewas released in 2011.

The rate of adoption of tablets hasn’t been uniform worldwide. Although they have been embraced in the US, Germany, France and Canada, among others, it is in the UK where the technology has been embraced most eagerly.

Between January of 2012 and 2013, traffic from tablets across the UK grew by more than 130%. In the US, the growth was a more moderate 90%.

Of the countries whose internet traffic was examined by the company, Japan and China were the only two where the use of smartphones was still dominating over the use of tablets for web browsing.

While smart­phone traf­fic in the UK is sim­i­lar to that seen in US and Canada, tablet traf­fic is much higher, espe­cially when com­pared to the rest of the world. Inter­net users in the UK are much more likely than their French and Ger­man coun­ter­parts to browse via both tablets and smart­phones. In Japan and China, how­ever, smart­phones remain the mobile brows­ing device of choice. This is not sur­pris­ing given the smart­phone capa­bil­i­ties that have existed in Japan for years and the high costs of tablets and high speed mobile access in China.

In total, traffic from tablets world-wide doubled over the past 12 months, with a remarkably steady growth rate from month to month. Adobe is not expecting the trend to reverse over the course of 2013, and predicts that tablets will not only increase their lead on smartphones but will also take a bite out the PC traffic.