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Tablets still surging in popularity

Over 30 % of US and 50 % of British households already have a tablet yet the latest Gartner figures show we're still nowhere near saturation point.

business Updated: Oct 22, 2013 11:53 IST

Over 30 % of US and 50 % of British households already have a tablet yet the latest Gartner figures show we're still nowhere near saturation point.

Gartner expects the tablet market to increase another 42.7 % this year with some 184 million devices expected to ship before the end of 2013. The research firm's latest report shows that the traditional PC market is continuing to contract in order to make room for tablets.

Many experts have said that despite the simplicity and versatility that tablets offer, it's financial concerns that have been causing consumers to turn their backs on PCs, but Gartner's report paints a slightly different picture. Traditional computers are proving a poor fit with modern lifestyles, where mobility is clearly king.

Because although computer shipments are expected to be down a whole 11.2 % on 2012's figures, there are signs of life in the ultraportable segment. Ultrabooks and now hybrid or convertible devices that run a full version of Windows are beginning to find their feet and Gartner believes that the segment will grow by 8.4 % this year.

Earlier this month, Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich, said that due to its company's latest processor architecture, tablet, notebooks and convertible devices that run Android and Windows will plummet in price and become more affordable for more people before the end of the year and, as we approach the holiday season, the first sub-$300 Windows 8.1 tablets (which can be used like a notebook when paired with a keyboard) from the likes of Lenovo and Acer are already hitting the market and many more competitors are expected in the coming months.

In terms of tablet trends, Gartner's figures show that the 7-inch form factor is quickly becoming the norm but this popularity could be as much to do with competitive pricing as much as anything else. It's where Amazon, Google, and more recently Apple, have chosen to do battle.

But as well as drawing sales away from larger, premium tablets, such as the original 9.7-inch iPad, these smaller tablets are challenging smartphones too. "Continuing on the trend we saw last year, we expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favorite -- the smartphone -- loses its appeal," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement.

The latest research from Pew Internet, published on October 18, shows that tablet ownership in the US has grown from 25 % of adults to 35 % over the past year and that, when e-readers such as the Kindle and Nook are factored into the mix, that figure rises to 43 % of those aged 16 or over. Meanwhile Ofcom's latest long-term in-depth study of British households, media consumption and device ownership, also published this month, reveals that 51 % of UK children now have access to a tablet at home up from just 20 % in 2012.