More than one billion people worldwide will use a tablet in 2015 representing nearly 15 per cent of the global population and more than double the number three years ago. By 2018, the number of tablet users in the world will reach 1.43 billion and nearly 20 per cent of the world population will use tablets regularly.
China will be the world leader in terms of tablet users in 2015, with more than 328 million residents accessing these devices at least once per month—nearly one-third of the world’s total. The US is a distant second, with fewer than half the number China has.
However, the report highlights that growth in the global tablet-using population will slow dramatically in 2015 and continue to taper off. The total number of tablet users is expected to increase by 17.1 per cent this year. This shows a decline in year-over-year gains of 54.1 per cent in 2013 and 29.1 per cent in 2014. By 2018, the growth rate for new tablet users worldwide will be just 7.9 per cent.
According to the report the reason behind this slowing growth is that the current number of users is skewed by an abundance in developed markets. As those markets mature, growth in emerging markets is not expected to pick up much slack.
The study highlights that tablets are still perceived as luxury items, both from a perspective of share of wallet and share of time spent with media. They also face increased competition from smartphones and a widening array of connected devices, including phablets, wearables, connected TVs and dedicated gaming devices, particularly in late-adopting countries like Japan and South Korea. Thus the use case for tablets is not always clear, particularly in markets where smartphone and phablet usage is robust.
“The shared nature of tablets and increased competition from other connected devices reduce the likelihood that the tablet audience will match the size of the smartphone audience worldwide,” said Cathy Boyle, senior analyst at eMarketer said in a company blog.
“The most limiting factor is the use case for a tablet: It is not as clear-cut or compelling as a communication tool—the core capability and use case for a smartphone,” added Boyle.
The report highlights that Indonesia will enter the top five, reaching nearly 38 million tablet users in 2016. By 2017, China will have more than 400 million tablet users.