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Tablets have become a 'must-have’ device for UK consumers

Thursday, May 28th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

More than half of UK households now own a tablet, Ofcom research has shown.

The tablet has become a ‘must-have’ device in the five years since Apple launched the iPad in the UK in 2010, the communications regulator’s research suggests.

The rise in popularity of tablets has seen the percentage of UK households that have one rise from 2% in 2011 to 54% now.

The trend is set to continue, Ofcom said, with 21% of households currently without a tablet saying they are likely to get one within the next 12 months.

Tablets are proving particularly popular among people aged 35 to 54, with nearly two thirds of this age group (64%) having one.

Ofcom’s research also found that seven in 10 children (71%) aged 5 to 15 had access to a tablet at home by the end of 2014, up from just over half (51%) in 2013.

The number of children in this age group with their own device is also on the rise, up from 19% in 2013 to 34%.

One in 10 (11%) three to four year olds also now have their own tablet to keep them entertained, Ofcom found.


The mobile phone was the main device used for gaming by the end of 2014 – with more than a quarter (26%) of mobile users playing games at least once a week.

But Ofcom found that gaming on tablets is becoming more popular, with 15% of all adults using a tablet to play games such as Angry Birds or Candy Crush, compared to 17% for gaming on consoles.

Almost one in four (24%) 16-24 year olds are regularly gaming on their tablet, it found.

More than one in three adults (37%) use a tablet to go online at home, Ofcom said, while just 15% appear to take their tablet out and about, such as when away from home, work or their place of study.

Watching video clips is popular on tablets – at the end of 2014, 58% of people with a tablet connected at home were watching video clips online.

36% were watching catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Player, the regulator said.

The research shows that tablets are helping drive the use of apps, with 86% of adults who go online on a tablet using apps at the end of 2014.

News apps were popular, with 48% of all app users getting their headlines on an app compared to 37% who use a web browser.

But when searching for information, the browser prevails, with 61% of app users mostly using a browser to find the information they are looking for, while just 25% tend to use an app.

'Must-have device'

Kate Reeve, director of Consumer Research at Ofcom, said: “In just five years, tablets have become a must-have device for millions of UK households.

“We’re using them to catch up with the news, watch our favourite soaps and keep the kids entertained, with around one in three 5-15 year olds having their own tablet.”

The research comes after Cable.co.uk previously reported on Ofcom research that suggested that the increasing use of tablets and smartphones is fuelling a hike in the amount of time people spend online.

The regulator’s Media Use and Attitudes 2015 report found that people are spending twice as much time online compared to 10 years ago, attributing the rise to the increasing take-up of tablets and smartphones.

The percentage of adults who used a tablet to go online rose from 5% in 2010 to 39% in 2014, while the number of people using a smartphone to access the internet more than doubled in five years, rising from 30% of adults in 2010 to 66% in 2014.

But research by consumer analysts Nielsen suggested that young people aged 15 to 20 are four times more likely to watch video content on a smartphone than a tablet.

Nielsen’s Global Digital Landscape found that 59% of those in their mid teens to early 20s will choose to watch video programmes on smartphones instead of larger screen tablets.

Just 13% of the age group – collectively referred to as Generation Z – opted for tablets when watching video content away from home.

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