More than one in five Americans already own or plan to buy a tablet computer by 2014, according to a survey of 2,288 adults conducted November 10-12 by Harris Interactive for Fuze Box, which designs mobile apps. Within this group, 78% said they will use the device for Web browsing, 75% for email, 53% to read digital editions of books and newspapers, 50% for social networking, and 33% to play games. Thirty-seven percent said they plan to use it for business.
Some 9 million Americans already own a tablet computer, according to Harris, which found that men are currently more likely (26%) to own or plan to buy a tablet computer than women (18%).
There is also a generational divide: 26% of adults ages 18-34 said they own or plan to buy a tablet computer, compared to 15% of adults 55+.
The Harris findings come not long after eMarketer released a forecast predicting that the number of Americans who own a tablet computer is expected to jump from 9.7 million this year to 24 million in 2011 and 40.6 million in 2012 -- representing an increase from 3.1% to 12.8% of the total population during that period.
Cumulative worldwide sales of tablet computers will exceed 140 million units by the end of 2012, according to eMarketer -- a combined total of 15.7 million devices sold in 2010, plus a projected 43.6 million in 2011 and another 81.3 million in 2012.
The Apple iPad will dominate this burgeoning market, but its share will decline somewhat in the face of new competition -- with a total 13.3 million iPads sold in 2010, followed by 33.1 million in 2011, and 56.1 million in 2012, for cumulative sales of 102.5 million by the end of that year.
Hoping to cash in on the surge of interest in the iPad and tablet computers generally, publishers are rushing to introduce digital editions of newspapers and magazines optimized for viewing on tablet devices. They are also hurrying production of a new generation of digital-only magazines for the iPad, including The Daily from News Corp., Project from Virgin and News+ and Roadtrip from Bonnier.