The tablet explodes: Old and young charge towards tech

Since the debut of Apple’s iPad in 2010, and the subsequent arrival of rival products such as Amazon Fire, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google Nexus, there has been an explosion in the popularity of tablets, which are shaping the way people use the internet and watch TV and films.

The proportion of UK households that have one has risen from just 2% in 2011 to 54% this year, according to a report by UK media regulator Ofcom.

Tablets have proven most popular among people aged 34 to 54, with nearly two-thirds of this age group owning one, up from just 2% in 2011.

Sixty percent of 16 to 34-year-olds with own or have access to one, up from 2% in 2011.

Tablets are also increasingly popular with parents trying to keep their children entertained, as 11% of three to four-year-olds have one of their own.

One in three children aged between five and 15 years old also have their own device, up from 19% just two years ago, while overall 71% of this age group at least have access to a tablet at home.

Despite the popularity of tablets among this age group it is laptops that remain the most popular device children use to go online.

An interesting trend has been the rise of tablets among those aged over 55, a generation not traditionally considered to be particularly keen on new technology, from 1% ownership in 2011 to 37% in 2015.

“The 50+ age group invented most of the cool stuff we use today,” said Stefano Hatfield, chief executive of online community High50. “How old is Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee and Tim Cook? How old would Steve Jobs have been? Not only are we using them for reading digital newspapers and books, but also to binge-watch TV series, graze YouTube, stay in touch with family and friends over Skype and stay connected on Facebook.”

Tablets remain popular for that lean-back experience at home, where 37% of people use them to go online, and almost 60% of those doing so watching video clips.

More than a third use tablets to catch up with their favourite TV shows and films on services such as the BBC’s iPlayer and the ITV player.

Outside the home the mobile phone remains the most popular device for browsing the internet. More than half of adults regularly use one to do so.

This compares to just 15% of tablet owners who use theirs to surf the internet when they are on the move.

“In just five years, tablets have become a must-have device for millions of UK households,” said Kate Reeve, director of consumer research at Ofcom. “We’re using them to catch up with the news, watch our favourite soaps and keep the kids entertained.”

Tablets are also helping to drive the use of apps, with 86% of those who go online using them.

News apps have proved to be very popular, with almost half (48%) of all users getting their news headlines from one, compared to 37% who use a web browser.

The rise of the tablet shows no sign of slowing down, yet with 21% of the households that are currently tablet-free saying they were likely to buy one within the next year.

Ofcom is projecting that 63% of UK homes will have a tablet by the end of 2016, including 74% of 16 to 34-year-olds, the same proportion of 35 to 54-year-olds, and 44% of those over the age of 55.

Meanwhile, Apple has toppled Google to be named the world’s most powerful brand, according to a survey.

The huge popularity of the iPhone 6 and the launch of the Apple Watch helped fuel a 67% increase in the company’s estimated brand value to $247-million.

Google saw its brand value increase 9% to $173-million, but it was not enough to hold Apple at bay, according to the annual Brandz survey carried out by WPP-owned research firm Millward Brown. – © Guardian News & Media 2015

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