When Apple unveiled its first iPad in January 2010, nobody talked much about its music implications. The device was more obviously disruptive for video, gaming and newspapers/magazines.

As time has gone on, though, music rightsholders and digital music services have got a lot more interested in tablets and tablet apps as a way for people to discover music, play music and even create it.

There’s a hunger for useful data on the growth of these devices, and what people are doing with them. So we’ve done a sweep of available research to provide some – all with the music industry’s questions in mind. It’s a bit of a stat-attack, but hopefully you’ll find it of use.

How many tablets have been sold?

iPad isn’t the only tablet, but Apple’s numbers are a good place to start: every quarter it announces how many iPads it sold in the previous three months.

The key figure: 120 million. That’s how many iPads Apple sold between the first model’s launch in April 2010 and the end of 2012 – click on the chart on the right for a breakdown over time. The company’s record quarter for iPad sales was its most recent, Q4 2012, when it shifted 22.9 million of them.

For a snapshot of the whole tablet market, though, IDC’s latest figures for the same quarter are worth reading. It estimates that 52.5m tablets from all vendors shipped in Q4 2012, with iPad thus taking a 43.6% market share.

– IDC thinks Samsung shipped 7.9m of its Android tablets for a 15.1% market share in the quarter, followed by Amazon’s Kindle range (6m / 11.5%); Asus’ tablets including the Google Nexus 7 (3.1m / 5.8%) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet (1m / 1.9%), with other devices accounting for the remaining 11.6m shipments.

– IDC also has figures for the full-year 2012, claiming that 128.3m tablets shipped over the course of the year, up 78.4% year-on-year.

– Other stats worth knowing: Canalys estimates that one in six personal computers that shipped in Q4 2012 was an iPad – 22.9m out of 134m units in total. Meanwhile, mobile analytics firm Flurry has calculated that nearly 8.9m new iPad and Android tablets were activated on Christmas Day 2012 alone.

– In terms of what devices are in use (as opposed to shipping), two studies from ad network Chitika and mobile operator Orange are handy. Chitika crunched traffic-share data on its network in the first 24 days of December 2012, and found that 86% of it came from iPads, with Kindle Fire (4.48%) and Samsung Galaxy tablets (3.01%) a long way behind.

– Meanwhile, the Orange Exposure 2012-2013 study estimated that in the UK, 17% of the population now own a tablet, up from 7% in 2011. The research claims that 79% of British tablet users own an iPad.

– In the US, the Consumer Electronics Association claimed in January 2013 that 38% of “online US consumers” now own tablets, with 74% of online consumers expecting to buy one sometime in the future. An August 2012 study by Pew Research Center suggested 25% of American adults – that’s all adults, rather than just internet users as in the CEA study – owned a tablet. For households earning $75k or more, the percentage rises to 47%.

How many tablets will be sold in the next few years?

How long is a piece of string? Analysts will probably have 17 different numbers for that! But yes, several have made their predictions for the tablet market’s growth over the next few years. The caveat when citing these forecasts is that the last two years have seen analysts regularly have to bump up their estimates, when sales outstripped their expectations.

But yes, analysts:

– ABI Research thinks 267m tablets will be in active use by the end of 2013, with 62% of those (165.5m) being iPads and 28% running Android (74.8m).

– ABI also thinks that 145m tablets will ship worldwide in 2013, with half of them going to North American buyers.

– NPD DisplaySearch is even more bullish: it predicts that 240m tablet PCs will ship worldwide in 2013 – the difference may be down to bundling business and consumer/media tablets into one figure, whereas other analysts just focus on media tablets.

– DisplaySearch also breaks its prediction down by screen-size: it thinks 108m tablets with 7-8-inch screens will ship in 2013, while larger 9.7″ tablets (like the iPad) will only count for 41m units (see right). The company thinks North America will account for 35% of tablet shipments this year, and China 27%.

– Forrester Research thinks that 14% of Western Europeans owned a tablet in 2012 – 33m people – but that this will rise to 55% in 2017 – 147m.

– Back in April 2012, Gartner predicted that 369m tablets will be sold in 2016, with iPad taking a 45.9% market share and Android 37.3%.

– Strategy Analytics took a different skew on 2016: it thinks the total install base for tablets (i.e. all the ones in use, not just new shipments) will be 780m in 2016. The Asia-Pacific region will account for a quarter of those.

– In a separate piece of research, Strategy Analytics suggested that by the end of 2017, mobile-broadband tablet subscriptions – people with cellular connectivity in their tablets – will reach 172m globally. It thinks that nearly 68% of those subscriptions will be LTE (i.e. 4G)

How popular is music on tablets?

There aren’t lots of studies of music on tablets, but a few key stats have emerged in the last year.

– In February 2013, NPD Group published a study based on a survey of more than 2,300 Americans, finding that 40% of tablet owners there use the device to listen to music. 65% listen to internet radio on their tablet – Pandora accounts for a large percentage of that, we suspect – while 49% transfer their own digital music files onto the device.

– A bit further back, in March 2012, research from Nielsen claimed that 62% of US tablet owners have paid for music downloads on their device – a lot more than the 19% who had done so in the UK, 20% in Italy and 9% in Germany.

– In the US, that’s more than the percentage who’d paid for e-books (58%), movies (51%), magazines (41%), TV shows (41%), streaming radio (27%), news (19%) or sports (22%).

– In 2012, Music Ally carried out some research with AudienceNet including the power of tablets for music, which we presented at the Reeperbahn conference in September. We found that tablet owners over-index for use of Spotify – 28% of iPad owners and 33% of non-iPad tablet owners were using it, versus 19% for non-tablet owners. While just 5% of the overall online population was paying for a streaming music service, this rose to 11% for iPad owners and 13% for non-iPad tablet owners.

– Even further back, in November 2011, comScore claimed that 62% of US tablet owners had listened to music downloads on their device at least once in the last month, with 22% doing it almost every day. Meanwhile, 57% had listened to music from a streaming or cloud-based service at least once in the last month, while 21% had done it almost every day. Again, think Pandora.

– A survey by the Online Publishers Association in June 2012 found that 51% of US tablet owners listen to music on their device on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, of those who watch video on their tablets, 60% said they watched music videos – more than those who said they watched full-length TV shows (47%) or films (43%).

– In that CEA study from January 2013, listening to music was one of the three most common reasons why US tablet owners used their devices, alongside social networking and watching films.

– A survey of US consumers by ABI Research and the IAB in June 2012 found 74% saying they listen to music on their tablet while reading print magazines and newspapers.

– A 2011 Google study titled Understanding Tablet Use – admittedly based on detailed monitoring of just 33 individuals rather than a large-scale survey – found 36% of tablet owners using their device to listen to music. “Interestingly, the top location for listening to music via the tablet was in the kitchen while cooking a meal…”

What else do we know about tablet owners and their habits?

There’s an emerging body of research on what kind of people own tablets, and what they’re doing with them (and where/when). Rather than divide it up by theme, we’ve highlighted individual studies worth reading below, with some of the key findings for each.

Forrester, February 2013

62% of European tablet owners use them in the living room and 45% in the bedroom according to Forrester’s latest survey. Of those that have a spouse or partner, 63% share their tablet with them, while one third of parents share their tablet with their children. “This makes tablets a far more social device than smartphones, which are much more personal and intimate,” claims analyst Thomas Husson. “Companies that want to exploit tablet opportunities need to understand that they require a differentiated approach from smartphones.”

Flurry, October 2012

Mobile analytics firm Flurry crunched some data comparing tablet and smartphone demographics and habits, and found tablet owners are slightly older – an average age of 34 versus 30 for smartphones – but that they’re a fairly even split gender-wise: 51% male and 49% female.

It found tablets have a greater spike of usage during the prime-time television window of 7pm to 10pm, with smartphones more evenly used throughout the day. Flurry also claimed that 67% of time spent on tablets is on gaming – a long way ahead of social networking (10%) and entertainment (9%). An important caveat here: Flurry’s analytics tools aren’t used by Facebook or Twitter, so usage of those two important apps was missing from this data.

Overall, tablet owners use tablet apps 9.5 times a week, spending 8.2 minutes per session on average – this compares to 12.9 times and 4.1 minutes for smartphone apps. “With consumers using tablets more for media consumption, and during the evenings, this stands to reason,” suggested Flurry.

Google, August 2012 (PDF)

Google’s study focused less on specific devices, and more on “the new multi-screen world” – how consumers are moving between all their devices, including tablets, or use several at the same time. It found that people spend an average of 30 minutes “per interaction” with tablets – more than the 17 minutes for smartphones, but less than the 39 minutes for PCs/laptops, and 43 minutes for TVs.

9% of people’s daily media interactions occur on tablets, with 79% of usage in the home and 21% elsewhere. Google suggested that 63% of tablet usage is motivated by entertainment, versus 32% by communication. Meanwhile, 34% of people said they use the device closest to them when looking for information – think about laptops being out of reach, and smartphones being in pockets to understand why tablets might score well here.

Gartner, July 2012

Gartner surveyed people in the US, UK and Australia at the end of 2011 to find out how they were using their devices. The five top daily activities were email (81%), reading news (69%), checking weather (63%), social networking (62%) and gaming (60%). More than 50% said they preferred to read news, magazines and books on screen rather than on paper. 87% used their tablets in the living room, 65% in the bedroom and 47% in the kitchen, with weekday evenings the most popular time. 45% of owners said they DIDN’T share their tablet with another person.

ABI Research / IAB, July 2012 (PDF)

A survey of US tablet mobile-data users found 24% saying they interact with mobile ads once a day or more frequently from their device, while 23% do it a few times a week. 23% said they never interact with ads on their tablet. 97% say they use their tablet at home, 40% at work, 35% in the car, 28% while out shopping, and 23% while on public transportation. 84% use their tablet to browse the internet while watching TV, while 73% access social media, and 64% indulge in “companion TV activity”.

Online Publishers Association, June 2012 (PDF)

A survey of US tablet owners claimed 31% of US internet users owned a tablet, up from 12% in 2011. 56% were male and 44% female, with 25-34 year-olds the biggest group, accounting for 28% of tablet users. However, new buyers were skewing more female and older. 74% of tablet owners use the device every day, and they average 13.9 hours a week.

The key time of day for tablet usage is evenings between 5pm and 11pm, and 67% of usage is at home. Meanwhile, 70% of tablet users keep and regularly use at least 50% of the tablet apps they’ve ever downloaded. Talking of which, the average US tablet owner had downloaded 22 apps for their device according to the survey. 72% of tablet app downloaders have paid for apps.

comScore, June 2012

comScore’s survey of Americans found that tablet users are nearly three times more likely to watch video on their device that smartphone users. In fact, 53% of tablet owners said they watched video on their devices, with 18.9% saying they do it once a week, and 9.5% doing it almost every day. Of those viewing video, 26.7% paid to watch content.

Forrester, April 2012

Forrester found that 85% of US tablet owners used their devices while watching TV, with 18% saying they connected their tablet to their TV using HDMI or VGA cables. “As much as Samsung and others have promoted ‘Smart TVs’, the reality is that consumers with tablets think their tablets are even smarter, and at least some of the time prefer to watch the content from their small device on the big screen…”

CCS Insight, November 2011

This study’s old (in tablet years) but still interesting, identifying “sofa surfers” and “bedroom browsers” as the early adopters of tablets in Europe. It found more than 90% of owners used their tablets for at least an hour every day, then dug into where they use them. 79% in the living room, 60% in the bedroom and 38% in the kitchen. Only 15% used them while commuting, and 27% at work.

Phew! Anything else?

Just a few more stories and stats that may be of use:

– 27% of US tablet owners say they are using their PC less frequently for accessing the internet, and 20% say they’re using it less for accessing Facebook. NPD sees this as part of a wider trend for people to switch their “entertainment-centric behaviours to tablets, smartphones and connected TVs at warp speed”.

– If you’re thinking about the potential for ad-supported music services on tablets, definitely check out Nielsen’s UK Connected Devices report from February 2012. It suggested that 40% of UK tablet users agree that “advertising is acceptable” on their device – more than the 30% for smartphones – while tablet users remember ads better: 48% can recall seeing an ad on their tablet once a day or more often, versus 37% on smartphones.

– There’s a lot of data around second-screen habits – people using tablets while watching TV. This Guardian article rounds up research from Red Bee Media, BSkyB, Harris Interactive, Google and Deloitte among others.

And don’t forget about The Kids!

This is the parting shot we’ll leave with you: a lot of children are already growing up as tablet natives.

Vodafone claimed in January 2013 that 93% of parents use their smartphones and tablets with their children, while 60% regularly download numbers, spelling and colouring apps for them. In February 2012, 70% of children in tablet-owning households were using the device, according to Nielsen’s US survey.

British communications regulator Ofcom published its own research in October 2012 claiming that 17% of 12-15 year-olds in the UK were using a tablet at home, while 9% of 3-4 year-olds were.

And just to show how optimistic kids are, in November 2012 when Nielsen asked American 6-12 year-olds what they wanted for Christmas, 48% said an iPad (and 36% an iPad mini). In December, Futuresource found 23% of American parents admitting that their children had asked Santa for a Christmas – with 14% in the UK.

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