Tablet devices, in their current incarnation, have only been available for a couple years, but the iPad has propelled them to rapid increases in ownership and usage. eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2011, 33.7 million Americans will use a tablet device at least monthly—a rise of 158.6% over 2010, the year the iPad was released.
In September, research from Ipsos showed almost one in five (17%) consumers were considering purchasing a tablet in the run up to the holidays – and 11% of consumers were ‘definitely’ going to purchase one. Analysts say the rapid growth will slow to double digits beginning in 2012, but predict the number of users will rise to nearly 90 million, or 35.6% of all internet users, by 2014.
eMarketer’s previous tablet-related forecasts have focused on unit sales and the total installed base of devices. These current estimates deal instead with usage, and account for device sharing. eMarketer believes that as tablet adoption continues, less growth will come from sharing and more from replacing older devices with new ones. Eventually, tablets may become more like smartphones, which typically have a single user and less sharing.
Apple’s iPad remains the top-of-mind brand in the tablet segment. In the September study, over half (56%) of respondents interested in owning a tablet specifically expressed interest in the iPad. And of those saying they were likely to purchase a tablet, over two thirds (68%) said the iPad was on their shortlist. The iPad, which has clearly led the tablet market since 2010, will continue to do so throughout the forecast period, though its share will be slowly chipped away by competititors, such as Amazin's new Kindle Fire. The number of U.S. iPad users will more than double between this year and 2014, from 28 million to 60.8 million. By 2014 iPad users will still account for 68% of the overall U.S. tablet audience.
The tablet audience is changing, though. Women currently account for slightly less than half of tablet users, but the disparity in tablet usage between sexes will continue to shrink. eMarketer estimates that this year, 31.5% of tablet users are ages 18 to 34, while 55.5% are 35 or older. By 2014, 18- to 34-year-olds will acount for 34.8% of tablet users, while those ages 35 and up will comprise 49.3% of the total. Usage of tablets wil also increase faster among whites than those of other races and ethnicities, growing from 60.6% of total users this year to 65.8% by 2014. Ipsos’ research shows that tablet owners spend their time surfing the internet, social networking, reading online content, playing casual games, emailing, listening to music, streaming video, watching movies and so on.[Source: "One in Three Online Consumers to Use a Tablet by 2014." eMarketer. 21 Nov. 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2011; "Amazon Kindles the Fires of Consumer Desire." Ipsos OTX MediaCT. 28 Nov. 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2011.]