MAJOR UPDATE 4/19/2010

I’m sure you all noticed that over the weekend, the tracker changed again.  First, let me apologize for not giving anyone forewarning – it shouldn’t have happened as quietly as it did, and the timing (just after it crossed one million) was pretty bad.  That said, we are continually trying to make the tracker more accurate, and we ran into an issue with our workaround to placing cookies on iPads – it works, but is not 100% reliable, and often we were seeing the same iPad with multiple cookies.
 I’ve put up a post detailing the changes that have been made to the tracker since its launch, when they were made, and why they were made, and we’re reaching out for feedback on how you would use the data we have available to us.  We’re also interested in your thoughts on our cookie workaround – how would you do it better than we have?  Our goal is to have as accurate as possible a predictor of iPad sales, and to that goal, as with any estimator, we’ll continue to update and improve our methodology, and with your help we can do that more effectively.

Also, from this point on, any and all changes to the tracker will be announced several hours in advance.

This past weekend, the world of computing came to an end.

At least, that’s what it seemed, with everyone remotely interested in tech (and most of those who aren’t) transfixed by Apple’s newest release, the iPad.  More than just an oversized iPod Touch, the iPad has been described (by Apple) as “magical”, “revolutionary”, and “thin” (which it is).

So, the Chitika Research team tapped our genius engineer Gui to build us a page that showed just how many iPads were out there browsing the World Wide Web. Here’s how we did it:

– We count how many new, unique iPads we see coming through the Chitika advertising network
– We multiply that by how much of the Internet we see at any given time to figure out how many iPads in total are out there
– We  look at where iPad traffic is coming from by state

With that, we’ve learned a few things.  For one, as of noon Eastern, we estimate that about 270,000 iPads are live, in use, and surfing the Internet.  For another, it looks like California is running away with the title of “iPadest State in America,” with more than double the iPads of any other single state.

We’ve also learned that the WiFi iPad may not be seen as primarily an Internet surfing device.  With estimates of over 300,000 iPads sold on release day and perhaps as many as 700,000 sold over the weekend, that only around 40% are showing up on the Internet may imply that people are buying the iPad for the apps, and spending most of their browsing time in the App Store.

In the meantime, Chitika’s iPad Stats tracker will continue to update in real time.  Keep an eye on it and see how the iPad is gaining momentum, and where the momentum is coming from (I’m looking at you, California).

UPDATE 4/8/2010 1:25 EST

Well, it appears that our assumptions in calculating iPad sales have been way off.  That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Steve Jobs has given us (and the rest of the world) a second data point – about 450,000 iPads sold through end-of-day yesterday.  With this, we’re able to get the proper assumptions – mostly, we need to refine our assumptions on how many unique IP addresses the average iPad hits our network from.

We should have the tracker updated with the second data point and correct calculations soon.  Obviously, our 700k number is fairly far off.  Thanks for the patience.

UPDATE 4/8/2010 2:00 pm

So it looks like an iPad coming through our system will hit from an average of 2.73 different unique IP addresses.  As a fix, we’ll be implementing this as a modifier to the growth numbers.  Should have an accurate count up soon.

UPDATE 4/8/2010 3:23 pm

We’ve updated the tracker to reflect a better statistical understanding of the IP-address-per-iPad quandary.

UPDATE 4/12/2010 3:16 pm

We’re now able to track iPads by cookie.  Obviously, there’s been some re-adjusting over the past day or so; we’re transitioning from IP address tracking (which came with a lot of assumptions) to tracking by cookies, which is a significantly better way of doing what we wanted to with this tracker.  Our engineering team has devised a workaround to Safari on the iPad’s rejection of any and all 3rd-party cookies.  This should be the last noticeable adjustment of the tracker’s numbers, and I’ll put up a link to the engineers’ explanation of how they managed the workaround in an hour or so.