Wi-Fi-based iPad proves popular at Boingo hotspots

Boingo tally puts iPad ahead of other Wi-Fi devices, except iPhone and laptops

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Apple's iPad is proving to be a big user of Wi-Fi in airport hotspots and other locations managed by Boingo Wireless, jumping quickly into second place behind the iPhone and ahead of Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices since its Saturday launch.

Laptops are still the biggest users of Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots in 58 major airports and several sporting arenas, totaling about 51% of all Wi-Fi connections each day, a spokesman said.

Of the remaing Wi-Fi connections, the iPhone represents nearly 90%; Apple's iPad reached 5.4% of all non-laptop connections in its first four days on the market, the spokesman said.

"It's stunning how quickly the iPad has established itself as a force in Wi-Fi," said Dave Hagan, CEO of Boingo, in a statement. In terms of Wi-Fi uses, the iPad has passed other mobile devices -- many of them on the market for months or years -- that have sold millions of units, he noted.

Among the other devices that use Boingo's Wi-Fi networks: Android devices totaled 2.5%; BlackBerry phones and iPod Touch MP3 players each accounted for less than 2%; and Windows Mobile devices totalled less than 1%.

The newness of the iPad, as well as its ability to play movies and other multimedia on a large screen, could help explain its quick rise in Boingo's tally. Also, the current model is a Wi-Fi-only device; the Wi-Fi plus 3G version is due out later this month. The iPad rivals cited by Boingo have wireless capabilities beyond Wi-Fi, giving users other options than a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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