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:


Latest stats show users iOS users do more of everything

New statistics show that in spite of Android’s domination of mobile handsets, iOS and the iPad dominate data usage

The latest figures from Comscore show that Android now dominates the smartphone market in the US, and an increase on the previous year. This has largely been at the expense of Symbian (Nokia) and RIM (BlackBerry):

Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending Aug. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
May-11 Aug-11 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google 38.1% 43.7% 5.6
Apple 26.6% 27.3% 0.7
RIM 24.7% 19.7% -5.0
Microsoft 5.8% 5.7% -0.1
Symbian 2.1% 1.8% -0.3

In terms of handset ownership, Samsung are the largest, followed by LG and Motorola.  Apple, though popular, represent less than 10% of the handset market:

Top Mobile OEMs
3 Month Avg. Ending Aug. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers (Smartphone & Non-Smartphone) Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
May-11 Aug-11 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Samsung 24.8% 25.3% 0.5
LG 21.1% 21.0% -0.1
Motorola 15.1% 14.0% -1.1
Apple 8.7% 9.8% 1.1
RIM 8.1% 7.1% -1.0

However, when it comes to OS usage, Apple dominates with their iOS. There has been previous evidence that iPhone users do more of everything than other OSs – more app downloading, more web browsing, more social media. Add other iOS devices in the form of the iPad (and a few iPod Touches)  and Apple’s operating system dominate the market. However, it is the iPad that takes the most traffic of all. Whilst the iPhone accounts for 42% of data, Apple’s tablet has nearly 47% of all data traffic and 97% of all tablet-based online usage.

OS Market Share by Digital Traffic (Browser-Based Page Views)
August 2011
Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations
Source: comScore Device Essentials
Device Platforms Share (%) of Non-Computer Traffic
Apple iOS 58.5%
Google Android 31.9%
RIM 5.0%
Other Platforms 4.6%

Keep Taking the Tablets: iPad and iPad magazine sales statistics

Update: Click here for the latest 2012 Tablet Stats here

2011 has been described as ‘the year of the tablet’ with numerous manufacturers entering the market. The latest entries come from Sony; one device has a 9.5inch screen and the other is a clam-shell design with two 5 inch screens. However, when it comes to tablet sales, Apple’s iPad still rules . When it comes to publishing, we were told that the iPad would change publishing for ever. So is that change happening?

Here is a run-down of the current state of the tablet market:

iPad Market Size

According to Apple, in March 2011 they had sold 15 million iPads in 9 months. Not bad at all. But compare that to the iPhone, which has sold around 100 million units in three years.

Predicted Tablet Sales

Total sales for 2011 – 28 million (UBS Research)

Total size of tablet market 2014 – 208 million (Gartner)

Tablet sales to represent 23% of all PC sales by 2014 (Forrester)

Portability: do you take your iPad when you go out?

Is the iPad just a big iPhone? It uses the same OS. You can make calls on it through Skype. So is it a big phone? Unfortunately not. What is it that defines a mobile phone these days? Given that most devices from PCs to tablets can all do very similar things, surely the difference is not in the functions but how it is used. These days we can define the mobile phone as the always there, always on device. It is also highly personal and not shared. Can we say the same for the iPad? Based on these stats from Comscore, it would appear not:

iPad Magazines

It is clear that many iPad users like reading magazines on their devices. The YouGov survey found that 51% of people prefer to read then on their iPad. However, this does not necessarily mean that magazines have found a new digital format. It is likely that many people buying iPads did so in order to read publications. And of course, whilst most of the population read print magazines, only a small number of people own an iPad. In the meantime publishers have been investing heavily in tablet versions of their magazines.

In September 2010, UK MD of Conde Naste said:

“I would expect 70% of our sales to come from print and 30%, or even 40%, to come from products such as the iPad”.

But how does this stack up against the reality? Take Wired. If there was any magazine made for the iPad, this has to be it. The first issue sales in June 2010 were very good, but by December 2010 it was less that a quarter of the launch issue:

Wired Magazine in Ipad
– Launch (June 2010) 100,000
– July Issue 34,000
– Dec Issue 22,000

Other magazines have fared less well:

Average iPad Monthly Paid Magazine Sales
Vanity Fair – 8700
GQ – 11,000
People Magazine – 10,000 (weekly)
Glamour – 2,270
Men’s Health – 2,000

These figures represent between 1% and 7% of their print circulation, some way off the 30-40% that Conde Naste were hoping for.

Click here for a complete list of UK iPad publications as of Feb 2011

So, it would appear that rather than seeing tablet-based sales increasing steadily, the reverse is happening. They are falling and appear to be something of a niche product. There has been no study published into why people are not reading iPad magazines, but you only have to read some of the discussions on sites like Quora,  to find that the general view is that the subscription model is not attractive enough. In spite of some preference amongst iPad owners to read on their device, on the whole people do not value digital magazines in the same way they value print ones. This is a similar problem that Rupert Murdoch is finding; it’s not easy to monitise digital content through pay walls and subscriptions.

There are other problems as well. From the publisher perspective the 30% paid to Apple is a barrier to selling subscriptions via iTunes:

However, it’s not just about cost. Many iPad magazines are available either for a one-off download cost or at less then the print subscription. Whilst some iPad users enjoy reading magazines on their device, the problem is that many still don’t. Comscore tell us that for iPad owners the preference is as follows:

Besides the subscription model, part of this seems to be that many magazines simply fail to engage the user well on tablet devices. Whilst it costs almost nothing to create a pdf and punt it out via the app store, this is not the kind of experience that users want. Below are some examples of a more engaging approach to the tablet-based magazine:

 Cool iPad Magazine Apps

SPIN Magazine
Letter to Jane
Post Matter
Financial Times
The Economist
ANWB Stedenspecial

What is the Future for the iPad and Tablet Devices?

Apple has a history of creating and defining markets, so it would seem that their aim to change publishing for ever is quite achievable. What’s more, the investment by almost every PC and phone manufacturer to create their own tablet suggests that there is a large market. However, I think that could be optimistic. Whilst everyone wants or has a phone, not everyone wants a tablet. Far from it. Those that do own those devices are not necessarily interested in reading magazines and books on it. And of those that want a magazine, even fewer are prepared to pay for a subscription. In the end the market is really not very big.

However, the underlying problem for tablets is simply this: it’s a temporary technology. A stop-gap. True, ultimately all technology is temporary, but it would be safe to say we will always have some kind of device akin to our mobile phone. The same cannot be said about the tablet. It largely exists to fill the gap whilst phone technology catches up. There are many past examples of temporary technology. Take the PDA for example. Who carries a separate electronic diary, address book, note-pad with them any more? That function has been subsumed into the smartphone. With better input such as gesture and voice control, navigating the small mobile screen will become much easier. Surely the phone screen is too small to replace a tablet device, I hear you ask? True, but in the future mobile screens will be expandable. You just pull it out to make it bigger. Sounds impossible? Well Sony have already developed a screen that can be rolled around a pencil and pulled out when you need it bigger. The military also have similar devices. Perhaps the best vision of the future of mobiles comes from this video:

Random iPad Fact

A YouGov study in the UK found that 21% of men and 12% of women read their iPad on the toilet.
Those with iPads use their computers 39% of the time less than before.

More here:

Keep taking the tablets?

They said that it would be ‘the year of the tablet device’, and two months in it’s already looking that way. Some useful stats here, tell us that there are over 100 different devices on the market which call themselves a tablet.

According to the report on ZDNet, it is believed that sales will be up to 200 million units very soon. The big growth will not be in Apple’s offering but a low-end market (under $100) which will eat into the low-end PC market.

Magazine Circulations on The iPad

When the iPad came out last year, it was touted (amongst other things) as creating a revolution in publishing. The same kind of revolution that the mp3 and iPod brought to music. Whilst publishers have putsome  considerable money behind developing tablet-based versions of their publications, the sales are not being realised. Wired is probably the most successful iPad magazine. And so it should be, as the iPad generation are by very definition Wired readers. The first edition in June 2010 sold 100,000 copies. The circulation is now down to 25,000. That’s good compared to others though. Vanity Fair and GQ sell just 10,000 copies each month, and Glamour just 3,000 copies. In short, when it comes to iPad editions, the novelty has worn off.

To put the circulations in in perspective, this blog (which is a relatively minor one) is read by more people each month than read Glamour. OK, this blog is free, but therein lies one of the problems for iPad magazines. The subscriptions are too high. Like it or not, people do not value digital publishing in the same way that they value paper-based publishing. There’s lots of reasons for that. It’s high res, highly portable, very robust and the batteries do not run out.

There is a big difference between mp3’s/iPods in the music sector, and iPads and magazines. The CD was essentially a carrying device. It was a means of getting digital music from one place to another. When the mp3 came along music itself didn’t change, just the means of moving it around from one place to another. However with magazines, it’s different. The paper is more than just a means of transportation, it is the medium. And with paper-based publishing comes a significance and permanence that digital just cannot offer.

There are opportunities for magazine-type publicitions on tablet devices, but things have to change. Aside from the subscription models, the content has to take advantage of the digital device itself to become more content rich and more engaging.

Tablet Sales to Eclipse laptops by 2015

In my predictions for 2011, I suggested that the tablet is an interim device, whilst mobile screen and interface technologies catch up. This goes against the grain of most predicitions! The latest forecast of tablet sales by Forrester predict that they will overtake those of the laptop within the next four years. And most of them will have an Apple logo on the back. Certainly, 2011 looks to be the year that everyone will jump on the tablet bandwagon, with new devices announced on a weekly basis. The forecasting company estimated that there would be 195m of the devices sold by 2015, though sizable, it is considerably less than the figures estimated by Gartner and eConsultancy. The Forrester predictions are shown in the chart below:


UK iPad Sales: not looking too optimistic

If the recent research from Broadband Genie is anything to go by, it looks like UK consumers are not convinced by the £400 price tag of an iPad to actually buy one. Apple have not yet published figures for iPad sales either globally or by territory, so apart from the quoted figure of 2 million iPads in two months (worldwide) little is actually known about the sales. In fact journalists were left to estimate volumes by measuring the length of queues at the Apple stores at launch (longest was Australia at 650 feet).

It’s important to not get caught up by the rush of geeks at the launch of any device, the true measure will be from long-terms sales. However, the recent UK report suggests that 60% of consumers regard the iPad as an over-priced gadget. Part of the problem may come from the fact that the market is used to highly subsidised phones, leaving consumers thinking ‘why pay £400 when I can get an iPhone as part of a contract’? However, the other element may simply be that the need that Apple saw in the market just isn’t that large.

Although eBooks have proven to be successful, the highly touted magazine subscriptions are yet to take off. Ad Age reported that magazine subscriptions for tablet devices have fallen well below expectations, ranking low on iPad users’ apps wish lists. To be fair, the tablet market is a new one and could take a while to find its feet. However, it may prove difficult for publishers to get the return on the massive investments made in this sector.

iPad subscriptions- are Apple getting too greedy?

Apple is looking to take as much as 30% from newspaper subscriptions sold through it’s app store, along with 40% of advertising sold through those subscriptions. The model is consistent with their app store and iAd revenues, but are Apple going too far? With when the iphone app store first appeared it was a new market, largely speaking. Apple offered developers (especially small developers) revenue opportunities through a new channel. The fact that Apple took a large chunck of that money was less of an issue as they were offering a platform which was not previously available.
There have since been a few moans about the iAd revenue split, but the latest idea of taking 30% from publishers could be a problem for Apple. Newspapers and magazine subscriptions is a long-standing market. Longer standing than the iPad and the internet. Many of the brands are well known and already have a customer base. So why would they want to allow Apple to take 30% from each subscription. The publishers would like to see a simple fee rather than a hefty revenue percentage. Whilst at the moment Apple dominate the tablet market, there is plenty of competition on the horizon with the likes of The Kindle and Android devices. Are Apple about to get too greedy?

Guardian report here

ipad isn’t mobile

Another day and another study, this time from Cooper Murphy Webb. It’s always worth taking these kinds of surveys with a pinch of salt (although they studied 1000 ipad users), but it raises some interesting responses. 27% of owners never take the tablet out the house, and 35% rarely do (they probably took it around when they first got it to show off to their mates). So that’s over 60% of people who don’t see their ipad as a portable device. On the other side 16% of users said they usually or always take their ipad out with them. I have said previously that the ipad is emerging as a new channel that I am calling The Sofa Surfer. Another interesting result from the study was that most users spend around 10 hours per week on their device and primarily use it for web browsing.

BlackBerry to bring out a competitor to the ipad

It looks like tablet devices will be the flavour of the month (or year). RIM the maker of the BlackBerry is rumoured to be developing their own ipad-type device: similar in size to Apple’s own version. It’s been dubbed the Blackpad (and apparently RIM have even nabbed that domain name), personally I prefer to call it the PadBerry (butter run out and grab that domain!).

More info here: