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A third of UK population now uses a tablet – no matter what their age

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Tablet ownership is fast becoming the norm in the UK, as a sizeable chunk of the population uses such a device at least monthly, and growth has passed the early-adopter stage, with inevitable impact on the online retail market as the PC dwindles in popularity, according to eMarketer figures.

This year, eMarketer estimates, 20 million people-more than one in three consumers in the UK-will use a tablet. This includes individuals who own their own tablet and use it monthly, as well as people who share a tablet with family members or others and also use the device on a monthly basis. By 2017, the tablet will become a mass-market device with more than half the UK population using one regularly.

One reason behind the growing tablet audience is the increased availability of low-end tablet alternatives. Many consumers reluctant to pay for expensive models have not yet adopted tablets. But eMarketer believes that the Amazon Kindle Fire, along with other tablet alternatives such as the smaller-format Hudl launched by supermarket giant Tesco in late September, will offer cheaper pricing options and boost user numbers.

Also, as audiences become more accustomed to going online via mobile devices, they are more likely to become comfortable with tablets.

That increasing comfort level could help push tablets past the group of early adopters who first bought and used the devices. The fastest growth in the tablet audience expected for this year will happen among those under 12 and over 65, with higher-than-average increases also predicted for those ages 12 to 17 and 55 to 64. While the bulk of tablet owners are still in the 25-to-54 age range, the distribution of tablet users by age will normalize significantly by the end of our forecast period.

Meanwhile, it’s not all about the iPad. Though 59% of tablet users will use an iPad this year-whether alone or in combination with other tablets-the growth rate for iPad users is expected to be a little over half that of tablets overall. Next year, eMarketer forecasts, the growth rate for iPad users will drop to single digits and stay there through 2017.

eMarketer bases all of our forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness. Additionally, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all our forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular reevaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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