The international Data Corporation (IDC) have announced that for the first time ever, the sales of tablets are set to outsell desktop computers. After selling a record 128 million units worldwide in 2012, people are now turning to the handheld devices with a sales increase of 80 per cent in 2012 alone.

If the growth continues, the tablets are expected to overtake both sales of desktop computers and laptops by the end of the year. To add to this, global Android tablet shipments have also increased in the first quarter of 2013, with 17.6 million units of Android tablets sold; giving the company a 43 per cent global market share.

Despite this, Apple are in the lead with a 48 per cent share, while Microsoft has gone from nothing (as Windows 8 RT is the first real tablet OS), to a 7.5 per cent share after selling a total of 3 million Window based tablets.

Peter King, Director of Tablets at Strategy Analystics says:

Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong Android captured a record 43 per cent share of global branded tablet shipments in Q1 2013, rising from 34 per cent a year earlier.

But why the sudden explosion in demand?

The truth is that when tablets were first brought out on the market, many people were wary of the devices and didnt quite realise at the time, just what potential they had. Despite initial reservations however, opinions have since undergone a drastic change, especially in the past year.

According to a study conveyed by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG):

For the first timetablets have become consumers preferred e-reading devices, overtaking dedicated e-readers.

Now, 44% of e-book readers prefer a tablet. Its 7% up, from 37% last August. At the same time, e-readers are a preferred device for 42% of respondents.

With the release of the new Kindle Fire, which is perhaps more of a tablet than an e-reader, it is no surprise that people are now taking to tablet devices as a form of reading.

In fact, in a study conducted by the Pearson Foundation, they found that more students were using tablet computers than ever before, with three times the amount of students using the technology in 2012 than in 2011.

Besides educational purposes, tablets also provide a solid base for gamers, who have, since the introduction of the Play Store (for Android devices at least), enjoyed a range of games that are available to download for free.

The online gambling industry has also enjoyed a boost in sales as Rank, who operate Mecca Bingo, stated in their 2012 annual report that, sustained efforts to improve the quality of our brands websites and increase the number of games available online and on mobile applications has meant that the spend per visit has increased by 1.6%.

With tablet shipments expected to reach 353 million units in 2017, it is expected that the future of both education and gaming could soon become embedded within the tablet market, forcing out the need for desktop devices outside working environments.

Sources: Pearson Foundation / Android Authority / BISG

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