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With the mass market appeal of Tablets at an all time high, and given that Apple sold 7.3 million devices in the last quarter of 2010 for a total of 14.7 million since the iPad’s launch last year, (hardly surprising given that Apple had no real competition apart from Samsung’s Galaxy Tab which arrived late in the year) it’s clear that the Tablet is the must-have gadget for 2011.

But what do Tablet owners use the popular device for, and what are its likely future uses?

As part of my own research, I asked the question on my Facebook status, and found that ‘work emails’, ‘showing taxi drivers where to go on the Map’, ‘using the GPS locator’, ‘reading books’ and ‘anything else that would mean taking the lap top out of the bag’ were the most pressing needs addressed by the popular device.

But while the Tablet has clearly found its way into both the living room and on the go, consumers are going to demand better end-user experiences, and more than just convenience from their portable devices.

Post CES, and the imminent launch of the 10.1 inch Motorola Xoom, RIM’s 7 inch BlackBerry PlayBook, the 10.1 inch Asus EeePad Slider which has the added benefit of a slide-out keypad, two HP Web OS slates, not to mention Apple’s iPad 2, there’s going to be a lot of choice.

According to new research published by In-Stat, the top three ranked uses for future tablet owners will be email, personal information management, and multimedia consumption (audio, video and gaming).

“Last year’s small crop of Tablets was being touted as potential e-readers; a way to compete against the extremely popular Amazon Kindle lineup,” says Stephanie Ethier, Senior Analyst at In-Stat. 

“But this next generation of Tablets is clearly being marketed as consumer multimedia consumption devices positioned to compete squarely against the Apple iPad.”

 

Earlier this week, IDC published its report on the shipment of Media Tablets worldwide showing the market grew 45.1 percent in the third quarter of 2010, and Apple’s iPad dominating with 90 percent of units shipped.

It identified Media Tablets as form factor devices with colour displays larger than 5 inches and smaller than 14 inches running lightweight operating systems (such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS) and can be based on either x86 or ARM processors, which include the iPad and Galaxy Tab.

IDC also forecast strong demand for e-readers, which are single-purpose focussed devices. In the e-reader market, IDC identified Amazon as the market leader, with more than 1.1 million units shipped and 41.5 Percent share worldwide, with Pandigital, Barnes and Noble (exclusive to the US market), Sony and Hanvon following.

IDC believes both tablets and e-readers will continue to flourish throughout 2011.

Among its research on use of Tablets, In-Stat said nearly 55 percent of survey respondents who own Tablets spent 9 hours or more using their Tablet each weak.

Despite the plethora of new Tablets being launched this year, however, more than 40 percent of future Tablet purchasers planned to buy an Apple iPad.


 

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