iPad 2 still going strong: Makes up 60 percent of iPad web traffic in the U.S.

Though the new iPad continues to break tablet sales records for Apple(s AAPL), some new data from Chitika Insights shows that here in the U.S., last year’s iPad model remains incredibly popular. In a report shared with GigaOM on Friday, Chitika says that based on data gathered from its extensive ad network in the U.S., web traffic coming from the new iPad accounts for about 18 percent of all iPad traffic, while 60 percent still comes from the iPad 2.

Chitika think that’s a sign that people are holding back on upgrading to the new iPad, and points to “the perceived minute differences between the iPad 2 and iPad 3, discouraging users of older iPads to upgrade.”

But, Apple sold 17 million iPads this past quarter, a record for the company, and Apple CEO Tim Cook specifically said that the most popular iPad sold was the lastest, third-generation iPad. There is a data discrepancy here, however: Chitika is talking about web traffic from iPads in the U.S. only, and Cook is talking about global sales.

I think this can also be explained by how important the iPad 2’s discount, starting in March, has been to that model’s success here in the U.S. Discounting the iPad 2 by $100 to $399 was smart for a couple of reasons. Yes, it put the iPad in the hands of more consumers who weren’t excited about spending $500 on an iPad, but it’s also opened the floodgates for schools to be able to buy them for students. (And that coincided with a bigger push from Apple in general toward education apps and books.)

Apple said last week that between April and June this year, it sold 1 million iPads to schools — a quarterly record for the company. It has had a record-breaking quarter for Mac sales to schools, yet it sold twice as many iPads as it did Macs.

On the company’s earnings call with investors, Cook said pricing was a big part of the iPad 2’s success last quarter: “We priced the iPad 2  to $399 and did very well but, the most popular iPad is the new iPad. But iPad 2 was key in the K-12 area. We have been very aggressive in this space and I don’t see changing that.”

Apple’s very savvy about how it prices its products and simultaneously squeezes profits out of them. Its success with the iPad 2 even since the introduction of the brand new iPad shows that. That’s why this fall is going to be so very interesting in the tablet world. With Google(s GOOG), Microsoft(s MSFT) and Amazon(s AMZN) undercutting or trying to undercut the iPad on price with smaller but compelling tablets, Apple’s decision on how to price the still-rumored smaller iPad is going to have a significant impact. Not only on its competitors, but on its own profits as well.