Microsoft is starting to make some serious progress against Apple's iPad

In October, Microsoft did something it’s never done before, it generated more revenue selling its Surface line of PC/tablet hybrids to online consumers than Apple made selling iPads, according to data from 1010data.

For the month, Microsoft took 45% of online purchases of tablets by revenue compared to Apple at 17%. (1010data gathers anonymous data from millions of online shoppers in the US.)

Since July, revenue from online tablet sales has been on the rise, growing from a monthly average of $145 million in the first half of the year to $205 million in the second half, 1010data tells us.

The leap in revenue is due to two things. For one, Microsoft is commanding a higher average price for its Surface devices. The average price paid for a Microsoft device was $844, versus an Apple iPad at $392.

For another, a bunch of new products were released in the second half of the year, including the Surface Pro 3 in June, iPad mini 4 in September, the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book in October.

And yes, 1010data did categorise the Surface Book as a “tablet” for this research, thanks to its touchscreen and detachable keyboard. It also included other convertibles in this market, such as the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro.

Without these so-called “laplets” the tablet market would look like it was “flat or even declining when in reality, the category is evolving. In the last 12 months, laplets accounted for 16% of sales for the tablet category,” a 1010data spokesperson tells us.

Now, admittedly, online sales represent only a slice of total sales. They don’t include retail sales, or corporate sales of devices purchased in bulk. But it’s still a pretty good early indicator that Microsoft’s hybrid “Surface” strategy is working with consumers, making them choose a new Windows device over an iPad.

On the other hand, Microsoft still has a long way to go before it knocks Apple from its market-leading perch. For the whole year, Apple came in with 34% tablet market share of online tablet sales by revenue, with Microsoft trailing at 19%.

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