Multi-tablet owners to boom in 2012

Mobile & tablets

by Allan Swann| 17 January 2012

While the tablet market may still seem nascent, this year will see the rise of the multi-tablet household, driven by more diverse and specialised devices - especially in the workplace.

Deloitte is predicting that 5% of tablets sold in 2012 will be sold to households or individuals that already own a device, whether for personal or work use. This equates to around 5 million tablets sold and additional revenues of $1.5 and $2 billion this year.

Of the 75 million tablets sold since 2010, around two thirds are Apple iPad devices, and the usage of tablet devices is booming. The new iPad 3 is expected to launch in March.

"The tablet explosion has shown little sign of slowing down since hitting the market in 2010 and is set to take the mantle of the most rapid multiple market penetration in history. Around five million tablets will be sold to people who already own one in 2012, generating up to £1.3 billion in revenue for technology businesses. It is worth remembering that it took several decades after introduction for more than five percent of households to have more than one car, phone, radio or TV," said Jolyon Barker, global lead of Deloitte's Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry division.

Similarly, it took the best part of a decade before cellphones or PCs reached more than one per household.

The market is also expected to diversify, much as the smartphone market did after mainstream acceptance. This will see devices move away from the now homogenous 10-inch screen size (80% of the market thus far), middling processor power and proprietary operating systems.

There will be an increased demand for tablets with different capabilities to suit different markets, especially enterprise.

The report also tips tablets to move away from the 10-inch format and reveal devices from 5-7 inches, a size Steve Jobs railed against and his successor, Tim Cook appears to be in favour of. The successful launch of the Kindle Fire seems to have provoked this response.

It is expected that the take up of 7-inch devices will be driven by first time tablet buyers, and existing 10-inch owners looking for a smaller, more portable device for their purse or pocket. These will be more focused on reading books, smartphone apps and reading email - straddling the iPad-iPhone divide. The low end prices of these devices are expected to be around $200 (£130).

In order to break Apple's strangehold on the market, expect competitors to pursue loss leader strategies, with an emphasis on profit through services, content purchases, apps and subscriptions. Amazon is already pursuing this model with its Kindle, and fellow companies such as Barnes and Noble, Orange and other devices will look at doing this too. The launch of Windows 8, Micosoft's tablet orientated operating system later this year will also boost competition

Multiple ownership of tablets will also be driven by enterprise uptake, as companies embrace tablets built to their specifications for work use. These will be 'no frills' versions that are more rugged, secure and compatible with company specific operating systems.

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