Search behavior of iPad users

Touchscreen tablet computers are rapidly gaining popularity. According to Strategy Analytics, almost 27 million tablets were sold worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone. 1
Tablets allow to access online content either via web browser or via mobile apps. As recent studies have shown, mobile device users spend more time using apps than browsing the web, but the number of people using apps and that of those who use the web browser is approximately the same. 2
Searching for information is one of the top most popular activities of tablet users. As the polls suggest, 78% US tablet users regularly search for something online. 3
This short report examines how the users of one of the most popular tablets, Apple’s iPad, browse the internet. All data for this study was provided by Yandex Search and Yandex.Metrica, a free web hit counter installed on several million websites.

Number of users

According to Yandex.Metrica, by the end of January 2012, at least one million of all online visitors to websites in the Russian internet 4 were iPad users. More than 700,000 of them were from Russia. 5
The iPad was officially released in Russia in November 2010. By that time, several tens of thousands of iPads were already in use in the country. In early 2011, their number exceeded 100,000 and then it increased six times during the year. Over the same period, the number of both mobile phone users and PC users also went up, but the progress was significantly slower than the growth in the number of iPad users – the number of mobile phone users increased 2.5 times, while the number of PC users grew only 1.4 times.
Fig. 1. Visits to websites in the russian internet via pc, mobile phone, and iPad
By the end of January 2012, iPad users accounted for about 1% of all internet users in Russia.
According to Yandex.Metrica, as of the end of January 2012, over one half of all Russian iPad users were from Moscow and the Moscow region. Other regions, however, were сatching up -- the number of iPad users in Russia’s regions was growing faster. In 2011, the number of visitors to Russian websites via their iPads in Moscow and the Moscow region grew five times, while the number of iPad-using visitors from other Russia’s regions increased seven times.

User activity

The search behavior of iPad users resembles the behavior of PC users more than the behavior of smartphone users. Tablets are obviously better suited for web browsing than mobile phones.
Fig. 2. Website visits per week via mobile phone, iPad, and PC
Web search is the activity that is as popular on tablets as it is on PCs. iPad users make as many search queries as, and even slightly more than, PC users, and significantly more than mobile phone users. The share of long search sessions on iPads is slightly smaller than the share of long search sessions on PCs, but it is substantially larger than the share of long search sessions performed on mobile phones. Unlike smartphones, tablets are more likely to be used for lengthy online search sessions.
Yandex’s search statistics suggests that people often use the Apple tablets in the evening at home. On a weekday, PC users make almost 60% of all search queries on Yandex during working hours and only 37% in the evening. By contrast, iPad users make 57% of all weekday search queries in the evening and only 40% of them during working hours.
Fig. 3. Search queries on Yandex from PC, iPad, or mobile phone, on a weekday
Unlike PC users, tablet users are likely to get busy searching for something online not only on a weekday evening, but also during the weekend. On Saturdays and Sundays, the number of search queries made from PCs falls 20% compared to a weekday, while the number of searches from iPads increases 20%.
Tablets are the devices that are primarily used at home. People like using them in their off-work time. Searching for information online takes up as much of the iPad user’s time as it does with the PC user during their working hours.

Search interests

Compared with the average Yandex user, iPad users make significantly more search queries about various topics related to travel and home. They are also more likely to look for products and services online.
They are less interested in games, social networking and entertainment websites. The reason might be that, instead of using a search engine to find this type of content, they have mobile apps at their disposal.
Fig. 4. Search interests of iPad users
Owning an iPad influences people's online search choices. Tablets are handy and convenient for instant web searches catering for their owners' daily needs, such as searching for travel times or tickets, recipes or homeware products. But, as far as entertainment content, mobile app search or social networking is concerned, instead of browsing the web, iPad users revert to specialized apps.

1. Strategy Analytics press release, January 2012. back to text
2. According to Flurry, as of January 2012; and according to comScore, as of November 2011. back to text
3. Understanding Tablet Device Users, AdMob/Google, March 2011. back to text
4. Any website in Russian, as well as any website in any language in the .ru, .su, or .рф domains or any other domain within the CIS countries. back to text
5. Only those iPad users that visited websites equipped with the Yandex.Metrica hit counter in the period from January 16 to January 22, 2012 were taken into account. This is the most conservative estimate: since some Russian iPad users may not have visited any website with the Yandex.Metrica hit counter over this period, the actual number is very likely to be higher. back to text