High penetration, though, among internet users
The two countries in the EU-5 hit hardest by the financial turmoil in the region are understandably posting the slowest uptake of tablet devices, a high-priced item. Although tablet growth in each country was above 100% in 2011, according to eMarketer estimates, and users will double again this year, that’s meager compared to their neighbors in Western Europe.
In 2011, France grew its tablet user base by 173%. This year, Germany’s base will grow 149%, after growing 144% last year. Although the UK will not post the highest growth in either year, it will still outpace Italy and Spain, despite already having the highest raw number of users and the highest tablet penetration.
Still, the emergence of lower-priced tablets on the market will boost tablet uptake somewhat in the depressed southern European countries. In 2013, Italy and Spain will see tablet users grow by 56% each, the fastest growth among the EU-5. Italy will rise from 6.3 million users in 2012 to 9.8 million in 2013, and Spain will similarly jump from 6 million users this year to 9.3 million next year.
That will be enough to grow their share of the market just 2 percentage points in 2013, to account for 33.7% of total users in the EU-5, but still down from Italy and Spain’s 2010 share of 38.4%.
Surprisingly, there is one tablet user metric by which the countries are actually among the front-runners in the EU-5. Italy and Spain will post the second- and third-highest tablet user penetration, respectively, in terms of internet users this year. In 2013, they will be No. 1 and No. 2, a mantle they will maintain throughout the forecast period.
This is not a straightforward metric, however.
Tablets tend to be shared among users in households. While a specific user may “own” the device, it is likely that two to three other people in the household use it.
eMarketer believes that sharing is less common in countries with higher income levels such as Germany and the UK. So while user penetration levels suggest Italy and Spain lead in tablet usage among internet users, ownership numbers are likely higher in the UK and Germany.
In addition, particularly low internet penetration in Italy and mid-level penetration in Spain help drive up tablet penetration among internet users. In terms of the population as a whole, tablet penetration in Spain will rank second this year, while Italy will rank last.
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