Tablets are category killers across the board

Neglecting your desktop or laptop for your new tablet? You're not alone.

Computer manufacturers, makers of video gear and game machines, be nervous. Research from Google's AdMob group shows there's a new Borg in town: Tablet computers.

A year after Apple's iPad launch, AdMob's tablet usage study finds that tablet use has cut into every kind of media consumption and every other electronic device.

We're already seeing the result in sales forecasts. Global laptop sales have collapsed, with just one per cent growth in the first quarter of 2011, our Melanie Pinola reported last week. Game console sales are down. PC sales are down. DisplaySearch predicts netbook shipments will fall 20 per cent year over year. (Of course, the state of the economy also might have a little something to do with this.)

According to the study, 77 per cent reported spending less time on their desktop or laptop since they got a tablet, 28 per cent of tablet users say it's their primary computer and 68 per cent say they spend an hour or more with their tablet every day.

If this adoption curve continues, we could see Apple iPads, Motorola Xooms, and RIM BlackBerry PlayBooks taking a substantial chunk out of the market for everything from TVs to game consoles, desktops, laptops, music players and e-book readers.

People now spend more time using their tablet than:

  • Watching TV (34 per cent)
  • Using their desktop or laptop (43 per cent)
  • Using their smartphone (41 per cent)

A clear usage pattern emerged from the data, which surveyed more than 1,400 users in March. People use their tablet at home, in the evenings, during the week. Gaming rules, but people also like the ubiquitous tablet for web surfing, checking e-mail, "consuming entertainment" (music and video), reading and shopping.

Not surprisingly, old media is getting killed, with more than half of survey respondents spending more time on their tablet than reading books or listening to the radio.

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Lisa Greim

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