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Web traffic on Chrome OS sees 700% surge

While Google's Chrome operating system still represents a small fraction of Internet traffic in North America, usage of the Linux-based OS has surged in recent months, according to a new report from ad network Chitika.

Since last June, Chrome OS's share of traffic on Chitika's ad network has shot up by 700 per cent, the firm said. Still, Web traffic from Chrome OS users represents less than 0.1 per cent of all North American desktop and laptop-based Web traffic to sites on the company's network.

"These findings seem to support reports that Chromebook sales are picking up steam," Chitika wrote in a blog post Monday. "While the recent growth is encouraging for the long-term prospects of Chrome OS, it has a long way to go before becoming a legitimate consideration for developers looking to optimize applications, programs, and other products."

Data from the study comes from hundreds of millions of online ad impressions within Chitika's network from 12 January through 18 January. The folks at Chitika compared traffic from Chrome OS to the PlayStation and Nintendo Wii, two devices that had similar usage rates in Chitika's last study in June.

Chromebooks currently account for 0.07 per cent of traffic to the company's network, while the Wii makes up just 0.02 per cent, and the PlayStation beats both with 0.08 per cent. But back in June, PlayStation's share of North American Web traffic was nearly 300 per cent larger than that of Chrome OS. In less than a year, that divide has shrunk to just 15 per cent.

So what's the reason for the increase in Chromebook traffic? According to Chitika, Google's holiday marketing of the Chromebook, and recent announcement of the touch-based Chromebook Pixel might have something to do with it.

"Looking at Chrome OS usage growth over time, there is a definite, sustained rise in late December 2012, indicating that Chromebooks were a popular gift during the holiday season," the company said.