Tablets used by third of UK population this year, with iPad holding onto lead

Over a third of the population will use a tablet this year, with 20 million people across the country using a device at least once a month, new estimates have revealed.

The data, compiled by research firm eMarketer, include those who own their own tablet, as well as those who share a device with family, friends or colleagues. The firm predicts that by 2017, over half of the country will use a tablet regularly.

Apple remains on top of the UK tablet market, with a 59 per cent market share, according to the figures. However this dominance is set to be eroded by budget models with the growth rate for iPads this year expected to be a little over half that of tablets overall.

By next year eMarketer forecasts that the iPad growth rate will tumble to the single digits and remain there for the foreseeable future.

"One reason the tablet audience is growing is the increased availability of low-end tablet alternatives. Many consumers who are reluctant to pay for expensive models have yet to adopt tablets," said the researchers.

"But eMarketer believes that the Amazon Kindle Fire, along with other tablet alternatives such as the smaller-format Hudl, launched by supermarket giant Tesco in late September, will offer cheaper pricing options and boost user numbers."

Tablet use has certainly grown fast in the UK. According to Ofcom's Communications Market Report 2013 published in August, in the first quarter of 2013, 24 per cent of UK households had a tablet, up from just 11 per cent in the same period in 2012.

Image credit: Flickr (Robert Scoble)