Since the launch of the iPad in 2010, more than 200 million tablets have been sold worldwide. Compare this with the laptop, which went from 2 million unit sales in 1990 to just 29 million 10 years later. Tablets have already started to cannibalize laptop and eReader device sales, as they offer distinct advantages over the laptop — they’re lightweight, have a long battery life, and provide convenience via a touchscreen and their “always on” mode.

Our recently published Forrester Research World Tablet Adoption Forecast, 2012 To 2017 analyzes the drivers of tablet adoption across more than 50 countries. These include:

·         A growing online population: By 2017, the majority of the worldwide online population will reside in Asia Pacific; this region will contain 34% of tablet owners. Europe and North America will follow.

·         The fall of tablet prices: For example, the Turkish government plans to distribute domestically produced tablets to 15 million students for free.

·         The changing demographics of tablet owners: While early tablet adoption took off primarily among the younger, wealthier demographic groups in Western countries, explosive future growth will come from a wider range of tablet users.

·         The changing use cases for tablets: Tablets are no longer just entertainment devices; by 2017, businesses will own just under a fifth of tablets worldwide. The business use of tablets would be even higher if bring-your-own-device (BYOD) tablets were counted.

Our tablet forecast uses consumer– and business-side survey data to understand these drivers. In addition, the data allows for a detailed drilldown into how the age and income of tablet owners will change over time. In developing countries, tablets will become the first computing device for many people, creating new opportunities for growth both in tablet sales and content.

With the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system and the Surface tablet with its detachable keyboard and heavier weight relative to other tablets, the boundaries between the tablet and the laptop are starting to blur. However, tablet adoption and use will remain a key focus going forward as battle lines are drawn for tablet market share across the Android (branded and unbranded), iOS, and Microsoft platforms. The winners will be those that can position their devices and content to match the changing demographics of consumers and business tablet owners.