Tablets – Highlights

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, April 14, 2021 

A person using a tablet on the cover of the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile Tablets Lens highlights report

Tablets – executive summary 

Over the last five years, tablets have been fading from widespread use despite their increasing power and usefulness. Ten years earlier, surviving a direct attack by heavily subsidized media tablets (Amazon’s Kindles), the product category continues to be under threat. Current threats feature substitutes. As larger smartphones reach broader market acceptance, any benefit from having a larger screen is relatively weakened. As lighter instant-on laptops, convertibles, and 2-in-1s grow into favor, any perception of tablets being less-than PCs becomes a roadblock. 

Tablets are being used similarly to home PCs, typically enjoyed for passive personal activities, such as watching movies or browsing the Internet. Tablet users, however, have not fully embraced tablets as often as home PCs, still using them for many activities such as creating personal graphics or collaborating on personal files. There are very few activities unique to tablets that aren’t being used on home PCs – reading a book or taking pictures – each of which are themselves not widespread activities. In fact, many people taking photos with a tablet are mocked or derided.  

Apple continues to reign as the champion of tablets, dominating most markets in tandem with its iPhone market share. iPads don’t require an iPhone to function, although there is a strong association. Apple iPhone users have a higher percentage of iPad use, and simultaneously, Android smartphone users have a lower iPad share.  

Samsung, the non-Apple smartphone market leader, has managed to claim and defend the number two share of the installed base in many countries. Samsung’s tablets have fared best among Android smartphone users looking to enjoy any ecosystem benefits. 

Apple has continued to bolster its services to encourage the iPad as a mainstay of any Apple fan’s collection. Fitness+ and Arcade gaming work much better with an iPad than on an iPhone, if for no other reason than having a larger display. Designating an iPad as a home automation hub helps with HomeKit and HomePods. So far, market reception of these specific services has not been mainstream. Collectively, however, each incremental offering helps build reasons for Apple’s customers to stay within the fold. The Google Android ecosystem has similar dynamics, also striving to keep its users within its family. 

Cellular tablets have not fared well, although neither have laptops integrated with cellular wireless. Carrier support has not helped iPads as much as they helped with smartphones. Although Apple offers iPads with integrated LTE/4G cellular connections, carriers have primarily promoted cellular tablets as loss leaders to retain postpaid smartphone subscriptions. 

Looking ahead, the opportunities for tablets are four-fold: a replacement market and three market segments: vertical markets, tablet-first users, and device collectors.  

The average age of the active tablet installed base is younger than ever, reflecting the market’s willingness to replace their older tablets. Coupled with a shrinking penetration rate, this indicates a replacement market. 

Vertical markets such as education are a longtime favorite for Apple and teachers alike. However, in education, Apple iPads are experiencing strong competition against Google Chromebooks.  

Tablet-first means using a tablet as your primary connected device. Tablet-first has represented less than 10% of the market and is likely to remain that small. However, this segment is best seen as an onramp for newly-connected adults. As market entrants look for their first connected device for basic activities such as email, schoolwork, and online banking, tablets are an excellent entre.  

Device collectors – those that actively use many connected devices of varied types – are a small and persistent segment. 

Purchase plans for tablets are moderately vigorous, although at only half the rates of plans for PCs and smartphones. 

Tablets – size of the market 

Primacy of tablets 

Between tablet’s increasing functionality and more widely available wireless connections, it’s plausible to consider that users would choose tablets as their primary device – the one they use most of the time. However, that has not happened. Online adults using a tablet as their primary device range between 1% in India to 9% in the UK. Even use as either a primary or secondary device is insubstantial. Among online adults in India, Japan, and China, the rate is less than 10%. It’s conceivable that primary tablet use could increase with some combination of usage that involves a 4G/5G/LTE cellular tablet being used instead of a smartphone as one’s primary device. However, this seems unlikely any time soon since users rely so strongly on their smartphones. 

Chart: TUP_doc_2021_0406_devi Tablets as primary or secondary device 

Tablets squeezed by other devices 

Other devices have pressured tablets. While the penetration of mobile PCs has increased or remained flat, tablet penetration has declined. Meanwhile, the penetration of smartphones has continued to rise. 

From: TUP_doc_2021_0404_form Shifting choice of connected devices 

Age of the active installed base of tablets 

The current mean age of tablets in the US is just over two years. At 2.3 years, tablet age is slightly down from 2017 when it was 2.4. Users in Germany and the UK have been keeping their tablets longer than Americans while also using never tablets than three years earlier. 

From: TUP_doc_2020_1017_age_ Age of actively used tablets 

Profile of tablet users 

Tablets skew towards larger households 

Households with three people have a higher tablet use rate than those with only one or two persons. Those with four or more people have even higher rates. This size-associated penetration is positive and accurate in the US, Germany, and the UK. During the last five year’s decline in tablet penetration, it is not as if more broadly penetrated large households have remained a mainstay. 

From:  TUP_doc_2021_1107_tabl Tablet use by household size 

Tablets among game-players 

Game-playing with tablets 

Game-playing is notable, although incidental, among the passive activities popular with tablets. Tablets aren’t competing with or comparable to the highest-performance gaming PCs and instead are used for casual gaming. 

From: TUP_doc_2020_1124_tabl Tablet game playing by household size 

Tablets in and for education 

There have been many widely publicized volume sales of tablets into schools and other educational organizations. However, among the general population that is TUP’s study universe, we do not find broad use of tablets for educational activities. Although a direct survey of K-12 teachers and students would show different results, if educational use were more substantial, we would expect at least broader use of tablets for education than around one in ten tablets. 

From: TUP_doc_2021_0402_educ Tablets used for educational activities 

Tablets in the installed base 

Tablets are not the only devices being used – by a long shot. From the active collection of PCs, mobile phones, tablets, and game consoles, tablets only make up 10% of devices. Around half of tablets are being used by adults actively using five or more devices, a similar share using devices of any type. However, tablets are hardly being used by any adults using only one or two connected devices. 

Chart, bar chart

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From: TUP_doc_2021_0330_devi Connected Devices by Type 

Tablet activities 

How tablet usage has changed 

People are using tablets more intensively, even while fewer people are using them. Among those using tablets, activity levels have increased, as shown by the average number of hours they use tablets. 

From: TUP_doc_2020_1024_aver Average hours using a tablet 

How tablets are used 

Tablet activities by country 

Tablets are well enjoyed for a wide variety of activities. Many of the top activities are passive – such as browsing the Internet, shopping, watching videos or movies, checking sports scores, or reading news.  

From: TUP_doc_2021_1017_top Top tablet activities by country 

How users choose between tablets and home PCs – or don’t choose 

Fluency and congruency between home PCs and tablets – top activities for both 

To see how tablets compare to home PCs, we looked into users that have both. We then compared the activities which have the highest use on each platform. Among users with both home PCs and tablets, several top activities are similar across each type of device: Internet browsing, checking/sending personal email, and watching videos/movies. There’s a separate group of more home PC-centric activities and little-used on tablets: creating personal graphics/presentations, collaborating on personal files, and searching on personal finance. Conversely, only two activities stand out for being more tablet-centric: reading a book and taking pictures. 

From: TUP_doc_2021_0405_acti Preference for tablet or home PC for activities 

Creative activities with tablets 

Looking specifically into activities that involve creativity shows that tablets are only being used marginally for creative activities. Among eight creativity activities included on the TUP questionnaire, only the general activity “personal creativity” stands out from the others. Collectively, around one in four tablet users regularly do any of the selected activities.  

From: TUP_doc_2021_0403_crea Broad creativity with tablets 

Tablets crowded out by other devices for communication 

Tablets are only nominally used as a singular device for communication – whether voice or written, personal or work-related. Only personal group meetings – such as having group Facetime or Zoom calls – capture over 5% of online adults across the US, UK, Germany, and Japan. While Smartphones are the device of choice for most users, users juggle multiple devices: smartphones, PCs, or tablets for most types of communication.  

From: TUP_doc_2021_0312_comm Device type used most often for communication 

Tablet mobility 

Locations for tablet use 

As mobile as tablets are, they’re mostly used at home. This has been increasingly the case well before the pandemic. Five years ago, tablets were in measurable use in workplaces at public locations such as cybercafés. However, usage has steadily declined since then such that homes are effectively the last remaining location for regular tablet use. 

From: TUP_doc_2020_1129_the_ The mobility of tablets 

Tablets – Competition and substitution 

Apple iPads dominate the tablet market. Non-Apple tablets are lead by Samsung and hardly any other brand.  

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From: TUP_doc_2021_0406_bran Tablet installed base by brand and country 

Apple iPad penetration trend 

Apple’s iPads have declined in use in the US, just as overall tablet penetration has waned. Currently, one in five online American adults use an Apple iPad, down from 28% in 2016. Apple has managed to retain a relatively steady share of Germany and British online adults.  

From: TUP_doc_2020_1121_acti Active iPad use by country and year 

Tablets as part of the user’s device combination 

Tablets are most commonly the third type of device in user’s mobile device collections – being used by users of both notebooks and smartphones. The most widely-used two-device combination is a smartphone and tablet. However, it is not a large segment, being used by just over one in five online American adults. Instead, tablets are found chiefly among users actively using three types of mobile devices.  

From: TUP_doc_2020_1212_mobi Mobility for all ages 

Tablets and the technology ecosystem 

Apple’s iPad has its highest share among Apple’s existing customers – those using either an iPhone or Mac. Around two-thirds of iPad users use an iPhone across the US, Germany, UK, and Japan. This share is substantially higher than among the general online population. Similarly, nearly twice the percentage of iPad users use a Mac than among the general online population. 

From: TUP_doc_2021_0329_appl Mac and iPhone market penetration among iPad users 

Tablet use by operating system and user age 

Apple’s iPad share is not substantially different by age group in the US. It is somewhat skewed towards younger adults in the UK, Germany, and Japan.  

From: TUP_doc_2021_0328_tabl Tablet OS by age generation 

Association between iPhone/Android smartphones and iPad/non-Apple tablets 

There is a positive association between the use of an iPad and an iPhone, just as there is between a non-Apple tablet and an Android smartphone. Online adults that use an Android smartphone are twice as likely to be using a non-Apple tablet than using an Apple iPad. Even more powerfully, users of an iPhone are around four times as likely to be using an iPad than a non-Apple tablet. 

From: TUP_doc_2021_0108_tabl Tablets dissolving into a split market 

Tablet purchase plans vis-à-vis PCs and smartphones 

Tablets are on tech buyer’s minds, especially employees working from home. However, tablets are not at the top of their list. Looking ahead, purchase plans are stronger for laptop PCs and smartphones than for tablets. 

From: TUP_doc_2021_0211_purc Purchase plans among employees working only from home 

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Preferences for tablet or home PC for activities [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, April 5, 2021 

How differently are tablets and home PCs being used? Among users with both tablets and home PCs, which activities are being used on both? Which activities are more unique to home PCs and which with tablets? This MetaFAQs details the activities in common, home PC-centric, and tablet-centric between users of both home PCs and tablets in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan. 

About MetaFAQs 

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. The research results showcase the TUP/Technology User Profile study, MetaFacts’ survey of a representative sample of online adults profiling the full market’s use of technology products and services. The current wave of TUP is TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, which is TUP’s 38th annual. 

Current subscribers may use the comprehensive TUP datasets to obtain even more results or tailor these results to fit their chosen segments, services, or products. As subscribers choose, they may use the TUP inquiry service, online interactive tools, or analysis previously published by MetaFacts. 

On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions about technology users – or TUPdates – analysis of current and essential technology industry topics. To subscribe, contact MetaFacts. 

Indexing 

TUP Lenses: Tablets, Activities, PCs 

Tags: Tablets, Home PCs, Activities, Home PC Activities, Tablet Activities 

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Children’s schoolwork by device type-American adults with kids 6-17 by adult’s gender [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 24, 2021

There are many ways for school-age children to get help with their schoolwork. This MetaFAQs looks at the connected devices that adults regularly use to help – PCs, smartphones, or tablets.

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Schoolwork and younger children’s education by device type [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 23, 2021

During pandemic times, many school-age children, especially younger ones, are getting their education at home. This MetaFAQs reports on adults’ connected devices for children’s schoolwork and other educational activities. We have split the results by device type – home PC, smartphone, tablet, or work PC – and country – the US, Germany, the UK, and Japan.

About MetaFAQs

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. The research results showcase the TUP/Technology User Profile study, MetaFacts’ survey of a representative sample of online adults profiling the full market’s use of technology products and services. The current wave of TUP is TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, which is TUP’s 38th annual.

Current subscribers may use the comprehensive TUP datasets to obtain even more results or tailor these results to fit their chosen segments, services, or products. As subscribers choose, they may use the TUP inquiry service, online interactive tools, or analysis previously published by MetaFacts.

On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions about technology users – or TUPdates – analysis of current and essential technology industry topics. To subscribe, contact MetaFacts.

Usage guidelines: This document may be freely shared within and outside your organization in its entirety and unaltered. To share or quote excerpts, please contact MetaFacts.

Communication platforms – fast, now, or visible? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 12, 2021

The frustrated plea “can you hear me now?” has evolved to include “can you see me now?” During pandemic and suddenly-working-at-home times, video calls have driven home the importance of having a robust, fast, and synchronous connection. Asynchronous activities such as text messaging and email don’t have the same need for speed and an instantaneous persistent connection.

It got me wondering – are people choosing one device over another for communication that demands higher-bandwidth or low-latency connections? Is there an age difference preference for right-now synchronous versus later-on asynchronous communication activities? Furthermore, are there other aspects beyond bandwidth and immediacy that encourage people to choose one device over another for certain types of communications? Are video work meetings, for example, more PC-based than smartphone-based?

So, I investigated our results from TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 to compare how widely communication activities are in regular use. I netted together asynchronous activities separately from synchronous ones. Then, I looked at differences by device type – smartphone, home PC, and tablet. I also looked at differences by age group, knowing that younger adults often have different sensibilities and experiences around communication than older or the oldest adults.

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How many gamers? [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, December 15, 2020

How many gamers are there? Is the market size big or small? Are the people that play games online or with their connected devices a small group of busy, fun-loving people, or is game-playing more widespread? This MetaFAQs answers the baseline question about how many millions of adults in the US, Germany, UK, and Japan use a game console, gaming desktop, gaming notebook, or even smartphones, PCs, tablets, or game consoles to play immersive games or other games. The results are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2020.

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PC gaming by household size [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, December 6, 2020

Is playing immersive or other games on a PC more likely in a smaller or larger household? How widespread is PC game-playing in the US, Germany, UK, and Japan by household size?

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Employee’s video calls/meetings by device type [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, December 3, 2020

Employees are busy having video calls, meetings, and group chats and are using a wide range of devices. While smartphones are a top platform, home PCs, work PCs, and even tablets are regularly used. There are some differences by employer size and country. This MetaFAQs reports on the devices used for video calls/conferences by employer organization size and device type.

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Key home PC trends [TUPdate]

Home PC Penetration

The home PC has been a central part of the American technology user’s world for years, and while remaining so for many, the home PC is slowly losing its primacy among some market segments.

Home PCs have been challenged by the emerging use of smartphones and tablets, not only among younger Americans. Older Americans have also rapidly adopted smartphones and are starting to discover how to use them well. Home PC makers, software developers, and service providers have worked hard to keep the home PC as a central device, or at least one that is included.

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