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New research suggests the tablet challenge is far from over for Apple or Android

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ipads.jpg Thought Apple had the tablet market sewn up? Think again. And it's not Android but apathy that's the problem according to new research.

Yep, if you thought Apple had the whole tablet computing market sewn up tighter than a zombies' mouth, you would be wrong according to newly published research which, while confirming the iPad as market leader, points towards a far from certain future when it comes to convincing the average consumer (as opposed to early adopting gadget geeks) that tablet computing is for them.

A new study of UK consumers has shed some interesting light on the attitudes and aspirations of both those folk who have already jumper aboard the good ship tablet, and those who have yet to be convinced of the desirability of tablet devices. The research by media communications agency UM London , entitled 'Tablet in Touch' and involving more than 5,000 participants, perhaps unsurprisingly revealed that early adopters of the tablet computing revolution were pretty evangelical about their devices with more than a third actually going as far as to say their tablets have changed their lives. Some 43 per cent reckon tablets are addictive and 27 per cent even use them in the toilet. Interestingly, 65 per cent stated that tablets are "more useful" than laptops, which kind of suggests a different consumer demographic purchasing both computing devices.

Yet only 18 per cent of UK consumers actually own a tablet computer, or an e-reader. The latter has the edge on tablets in terms of numbers, with an estimated 5.9 million adults in the UK owning an e-reader of some sort while 3.9 million adults (or 8 per cent of the population) own a tablet. Which leaves 82 per cent of the population of the UK without either, and 64 per cent of those have no intention of buying one either; which is bad news for Apple, Android and Amazon.

When it comes to tablets, price is the biggest deterrent with 23 per cent complaining the cost is still too high. More worrying, as prices tend to fall as adoption increases, is the fact that 38 per cent simply 'do not get it' when it comes to the benefits of owning a tablet at all.

As for usage, the push towards tablets as productivity devices seems to be struggling with an amazing 41 per cent of tablet owners claiming their device is just a toy, with only 23 per cent using them for work, and game apps (downloaded by more 50 per cent of all tablet owners) dominate the app arena. Most surprisingly of all, given the mobile nature of a tablet device, 35 per cent said their tablet never left the house...

Loraine Cordery at UM London warns that Apple and other brands "face a major challenge persuading those who don’t own one of the benefits of the devices".

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Davey Winder

I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .

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Fortinbra
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I don't know if this was intentional or not, but I've always used percent as one word.

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Ezzaral
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It's a British thing ;)

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Fortinbra
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Like going to a movie theater, or to a stage show at a theatre?

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happygeek
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Intentional I can assure you :)

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jwenting
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most people are quite correct in their assumption of not needing a 400+ Euro/Pound device that can at current do little more than function as a device for delivering streaming media and electronic books.

Looking at the Android app store, the bulk of "apps" are gimmicks or silly little games, much of the rest adaptations of desktop software.

Unless you're on the move a lot, need a computer while on the move, can find an "app" that has the functionality you need, and consider a laptop too cumbersome because of its size and weight while at the same time accepting the more cumbersome user interface of a tablet, you're probably better off with a laptop or even desktop system.
There's a small subset of users who can benefit from the tablet ability to store large amounts of reference documents, but that's not the main target market, mainly consisting of people working in consultancy who'd otherwise have to carry many pounds of books with them every day.

So what's needed is for either the available software to become much more appealing, offer real functionality that benefits greatly from the device form factor, and/or a far lower price point.
I don't see the latter happening soon, given that margins on device sales are relatively low as is.
The former will need someone to come up with a true "killer app", and another video player won't do it (if I knew what it could be I'd make it...).

I've talked at length with other software professionals who do mention a potentially very lucrative market, but one requiring major changes to the hardware to make the devices much less fragile. Until such "ruggedised" tablets become available they're stuck with ideas and dreams about things they could do with them that would sell large numbers of devices and software both.

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Fortinbra
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Sony has a newer Android tablet (Tablet S) that I would like to get my hands on. It does have a unique feature that Sony has toyed with in the past (PSP 1001), an Infrared transmitter. With the PSP, they didn't quite get it right, nobody made and games, and Sony didn't make any software to utilize it, so with the later models it was removed. The Tablet S on the other hand, comes pre-loaded with a nice little app that will be quite useful for gadget people like me. A universal TV remote App, as well as being DNLA compatible, so I can stream music and videos to compatible TV's, and control any that use infrared remote controls already.

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Wildaker
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Only 27% use them on the lavatory? I doubt that... Also, why is it "amazing" that 41% see them as toys? Since the only tablets people actually own (rather than those that journalists have on loan for review) are iPads, which are unashamed consumer electronics devices, this doesn't amaze me at all.

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alinasmith
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you thought Apple had the whole tablet computing market sewn

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jwenting
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Sony has a newer Android tablet (Tablet S) that I would like to get my hands on.

I tried one, and wasn't impressed.
The supposed "ergonomic design" means it's a lot thicker on one side than the other, with a curved back.
This makes it impossible to use in portrait mode, as it's nearly impossible to hold well.

It's surprisingly heavy for a 10" tablet, weighing in at a whopping 1/3 more than the Samsung Galaxy tab 10.1 (the featherweight in the market).
The Sony is also priced high, compared to other 10" Android tablets (and slightly over the Samsung, which used to be the top priced generally available one).

In all, I decided to purchase the Samsung. Mainly because of its weight, combined with an overall very good experience with other Samsung devices (and some trouble with Sony computer hardware, mostly their Vaio laptops).

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Fortinbra
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I'm leaning toward the Sony tablet, mostly because I've not had any bad luck with Sony products yet. I have a habit of sticking with one company when getting components that are intended to work together. In my case, my entire entertainment center is Sony based, my TV, my PS3, and even my Camcorder. My desktop computer is about the only thing without a Sony part in it. It's made almost entirely of ASUS parts.

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y2kshane
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just wait for windows 8 tablets u will see :)

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Tumlee
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That raises an interesting question: Once (if?) tablets become more popular for Windows users, how will that affect already existing software? Can we expect to see popular software redesigned with bigger buttons, or retooled to take advantage of multi-touch touchscreens? What about free libraries, like SDL (which has been in developmental standstill for about three years now)? Will somebody come and retool those so they can use multitouch?

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