Australians bought 4.
8 million tablet computers in 2013 – twice as many as the whole of 2012.
Close to 10 million Australians are now tablet users, according to estimates released on Tuesday by research firm Telsyte.
By 2018, that number is expected to reach 22 million, while tablet use will overtake PC use by the middle of 2015.
“Australians are increasingly seeing their tablets as their main computing device in the home,” said Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi.
“It’s happening at a rapid pace.”
Tablets have traditionally been seen as consumption devices – great for watching movies, browsing the web and playing games, but less capable than PCs for productivity functions such as word processing.
This was gradually changing with the arrival of more tablet apps, Fadaghi said.
“Once we see the arrival of almost all the apps a consumer might use, the acceptance of a tablet as a primary computing device should pick up.”
Microsoft, which still pursues a PC-first approach, remains a critical player in the equation.
Were the company to shift its strategy by, for instance, making its Office software available on Apple’s iPad, tablet pick-up would grow even more.
Telsyte’s figures showed Apple’s tablet market share dropped to 55 per cent in 2013, down from 72 per cent in 2012, despite releasing two premium models: the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina display.
Sales reached 2.6 million units, a 52 per cent jump on 2012.
Sales of tablets running Google’s competing Android software, however, grew 186 per cent, reaching 1.9 million.
The acceleration in Android sales was driven by the increasing demand for sub-$450 devices, a category Android dominates.
About a third of tablets sold in 2013 were sub-$450, Telsyte said. By 2018, it’s likely to be 50 per cent.
Low cost tablets – those priced below $200 – are becoming popular as secondary devices, Telsyte found. One in five tablet owners have two or more of the devices.
Meanwhile, figures released by Roy Morgan suggest tablet uptake is booming among youngsters.
More than half of about 7300 kids aged between six and 13 reported either owning or using a tablet in 2013, up from less than a third in 2012.
During that time, mobile phone use plateaued at about 27 per cent.
Tablets are “a case study in how devices move from being considered supplementary to necessary, desirable to indispensable,” said Roy Morgan’s John La Rosa.