The State of Tablet Devices: some facts and figures

A roundup of the tablet landscape 

In early 2011, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook announced at Goldman Sachs that tablets will overtake PC sales by the end of 2012.

We know from Tim Cook’s statement that 55 million iPads had been sold in the 18 months since Apple’s was launched. That makes the iPad more successful in terms of sales rate than the iPhone (3 years to 55 million) and much more successful that the iPod. The iPad currently dominates the market, however, there has been strong growth in Android-type devices. Tablet sales rocketed in the third quarter of 2012 (according to end of 2012 figures from IDC), and Samsung and Amazon saw significant sales increases. According to analyst house IDC more than 27.8 million tablets were shipped in the third quarter of 2012 – up 6.7 percent on the previous quarter – but during that time Apple saw its market share cut to 50.4 percent, compared to 65.5 percent in the previous quarter.


According to Comscore data from the end of 2011, tablets skew more towards men, however as tablet devices have grown, the demographic has switched, and are now used by more women than men in the US:

Demographic Profile: Tablet* and Smartphone Audience
3 month avg. ending Apr. 2012 
Total U.S. Tablet Owners and Smartphone Subscribers, Age 13+
Source: comScore TabLens and comScore MobiLens
% Share of Tablet Audience % Share of Smartphone Audience Index of Tablet to Smartphone Audience**
Total Audience 100.0% 100.0% 100
 Male 49.2% 51.6% 95
 Female 50.8% 48.4% 105
 13-17 7.3% 6.5% 112
 18-24 12.3% 16.9% 73
 25-34 24.4% 25.3% 96
 35-44 21.4% 21.2% 101
 45-54 17.8% 15.7% 113
 55-64 10.1% 9.2% 110
 65+ 6.8% 5.3% 128
Household Income:
 <$25k 7.4% 11.7% 63
 $25k to <$50k 17.7% 19.5% 91
 $50k to <$75k 18.9% 19.5% 97
 $75k to <$100k 18.3% 15.9% 115
 $100k+ 37.7% 33.4% 113


As expected, the earlier adopters tend to be of higher income, but are more likely to choose a tablet over a smartphone. As with smartphones, cheaper devices and notebook replacements (see below) will create demand from lower income groups.

For many, a tablet is not a PC replacement, but an additional (yet another) device, that is hardly surprising. Comscore tell us that in Europe 34% of iPad users also own an iPhone.


According to Flurry in Sept 2012, tablet users tend to be older than those with smartphones.

Tablet Age Distribution

Where are they used?

The most preferred place to use a tablet is in the living room according to data from Adweek

tablet location use

It confirms the trend that they are largely a domestic device rather than a mobile one. The use in the living room also demonstrates the shared nature of tablets. Data from YouGov, stated that in the UK there is 8% tablet ownership, but significantly it represented 20% of UK households in June 2012 (

Tablet Devices to overtake Notebook Sales

As expected, tablet devices are rapidly replacing notebook sales, with a prediction from NPD Display Search (Dec 2012) that they will overtake notebook sales this year:

Tablet vs PC

Tablet Users do More

In the US, Comscore tell us that nearly 98% of tablet data usage was from the iPad at the start of 2011. As with the iPhone, it would seem that users do more of everything than other devices. They are also beginning to overtake desktop usage. Comscore’s November 2011 figures show that tablets represent 30% of non-desktop traffic. That is considerably higher than the percentage of ownership of ownership.

When it comes to purchasing, tablets also perform well. A study by Adobe Research over the 2011 US holiday period found that tablet users spend 54% longer on sites than mobile users, and purchase over 20% more than desktop visitors. The following chart shows a comparison using average retail order value.

The high sale value is partly down to the ease of use of the devices. In an IAB study in December 2011nearly half of respondents said they used their tablet because it was ‘the easiest to pick up’ and 37% said that it offered the easiest user interface. But it is also worth considering that as tablets skew towards a higher income bracket, users are more likely to purchase.

Forecasts from eMarketer show that tablet devices show a greater growth when it comes to purchasing, with tablets representing nearly 10% of all US retail sales by the end of 2013:


Top Categories

Hardly surprisingly, the focus on tablet content is much more towards home/family than on smartphones (according to Comscore data):


Last Thing at Night (and First Thing In the Morning)

Data from Nielsen in 2011 found that 70% of tablet owners use it in front of the TV. Clearly, the iPad is the device for two screening. Interestingly though, the iPad is used in bed by nearly 60% of owners and appears to be replacing the book at bedtime. That figure is similar to smartphone use, but with tablets the spike at the end of the day is even more pronounced. Both the IAB study and data from Comscore in the US show that later in the evening, tablets are used more than mobile or television. On weekends there tends to be an earlier peak:

Advertising and Media

IgnitionOne, revealed that year-over-year (YoY) paid search spending growth for tablets doubled that of smart phones in the fourth quarter of 2012 as mobile devices as a whole grew to 18% of search budgets in the U.S

Useful read from Comscore: Connected Europe, How Tablets and Mobile are shifting media consumption (Jan 2012)

An App-based World

The Sept 2012 Flurry report found that tablet users were more likely to download apps than those with smartphones, and used the devices for playing games:


Video Views

Tablet Users Watch More!

According to Comscore in Sept 2012, tablet users are three times more likely to watch video on their device than smartphone users. Over half of US users (53%) ever watch a video during a month, with nearly 10% doing so every day:

Video/TV Viewing on Device for Tablet* and Smartphone Audience 
3 month avg. ending Apr. 2012 
Total U.S. Tablet Owners and Smartphone Subscribers, Age 13+
Source: comScore TabLens and comScore MobiLens
Share of Audience that Watched Video/TV on Device
% of Tablet Audience % of Smartphone Audience
Ever in month 53.0% 20.0%
Once to three times throughout the month 24.6% 10.3%
At least once each week 18.9% 6.7%
Almost every day 9.5% 2.9%

onine video

Inevitably, video viewing is much higher on tablets than mobile. As a total percentage of online video views, tablet (3.21%) surpassed mobile (2.21%).

Ooyala’s “Global Video Index” report (Nov 2012) suggested that 71% of tablet users watch long-form content (30-60 mins), whereas on mobile it is much more focussed on short-form ‘snacking’ behaviour. The report also showed that tablet viewers were far more likely to complete a video view longer than 10 mins than any other device: for videos longer than 10 minutes was 39.2%, compared to 35.3% for CTV & GC, 26.8% for desktops, and 22.3% for mobile phones.

For shorter videos, tablets were still saw more completions than mobile, but were surpassed by connected TVs.

The Preferred Device for Reading

Whilst it is no surprise that tablets are preferred over mobile for reading, they are also more popular than dedicated e-readers (Online Publishers Association, June 2012). That naturally includes news and magazine content. Data from the MPA, November 2011, found that 45% of tablet owners spend 1-3 hours per week reading magazines. This makes the tablet the most-used digital device for reading:

Conversion Rates

Data which compared 2010 and 2011, reported by eConsultancy, showed that conversion rates for tablets were higher than mobile – 2.3% compared to 5.4% and 5% for desktops and tablets respectively.

Tablets and Consumers

tablet shopperThe research from Nielsen (Dec 2012, US) shows that shoppers will tend to use their mobile for

–        finding stores, price comparison in-store, redeeming coupons

For tablets, though, consumers are more likely to:

–        Research items, read reviews, purchase

Two Screening

Although two screening use is largely similar between smartphone and tablet, the Nielsen data (US, Dec 2012) suggests that tablet devices are more popular for two-screening in older audiences:


One thought on “The State of Tablet Devices: some facts and figures

  1. Pingback: Tablet Research (Part one) | Future Media

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