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UK Tablet Use Sees Robust Growth

iPad growth slows as UK tablet market continues to expand

This year, eMarketer estimates, nearly 20 million people in the UK will use a tablet at least once per month, up 39% over 2012’s 14.1 million users. This includes people of all ages who use tablet devices—not just tablet owners. eMarketer believes significant sharing of the devices among family and household members makes for a larger number of tablet users than owners.

By 2017, eMarketer predicts that more than 52% of the overall UK population and about two-thirds of internet users will have access to tablets. This projection is almost identical to the share of the US population eMarketer expects will use a tablet at that time.

Growth in tablet users has been rapid ever since Apple re-introduced the device to market in the form of the iPad several years ago. Since then, the iPad has dominated the segment and last year saw growth of 125%. However this looks set to change over the forecast period as tablet ownership expands beyond the early adopters to the general population, who are turning to lower-priced alternatives.

Many consumers reluctant to pay for the expensive devices have not yet adopted tablets. But eMarketer believes that the Amazon Kindle Fire, along with other low-end tablet alternatives, will offer more flexible pricing options and boost user numbers. Increased smartphone adoption will also push overall usage ahead. As audiences become more accustomed to going online via mobile devices, they are more likely to become comfortable with tablets.

As these lower-priced tablets continue to be introduced to the market, eMarketer expects that the iPad will see some slippage in user share. eMarketer expects there to be 11.6 million iPad users in the UK this year, representing 18.2% of the country’s total population or 59% of tablet users. Growth will continue to slow throughout the forecast period and by 2017, that share will fall to 40%.

eMarketer forms its estimates of tablet penetration based on the analysis of survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies, sales projections, historical trends, company-specific data, and demographic and socioeconomic factors. Tablets are defined as touchscreen devices with a color display ranging from 5 to 14 inches, a Wi-Fi connection or mobile data plan, and an advanced operating system such as Android, BlackBerry, iOS or Windows. Though some have detachable keyboards, touch is the primary interface. eMarketer’s figures exclude devices with a cellular voice connection.

This forecast represents a significant upward revision in eMarketer’s estimates for tablet users in the UK. In November 2012, eMarketer predicted just 9.8 million UK residents would use tablets monthly that year. Based on data released since the end of the year, that number has been revised upward to 14.1 million, a 43.9% change. eMarketer predicts moderated growth for the rest of the forecast period after faster-than-expected growth early on. eMarketer believes tablet use and ownership will continue to grow at a fast speed as brand, model and feature options expand—and prices become more affordable.


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