Tablets Now Used by Half of Britain, Study Finds

Sony tablet

But "adoption nears saturation," meaning annual user growth will slow to a single-digit percentage figure this year, predicts research firm eMarketer.

Half of the U.K. population is now using tablets as Brits' appetite for watching videos, consuming other content or using apps on the mobile devices has grown in recent years.

Research firm eMarketer said on Wednesday that the U.K. tablet market will reach a usage milestone this year when, for the first time ever, the majority of the country's consumers, 50.3 percent, will use a tablet at least once per month. The figure is expected to rise to almost 60 percent, or 40.2 million tablet users, by 2019, it said.

"However, the dramatic growth the U.K. tablet audience has experienced in recent years will drop significantly in 2015 as adoption nears saturation," eMarketer said. "The number of U.K. tablet users grew 35.2 percent in 2014, but the growth rate will fall to single digits this year and stay there in the coming years. Still, eMarketer expects Britain to get 7.4 million new tablet users between 2015 and 2019.

"The country's tablet market is reaching a point in its maturity curve that signals a slowdown in user growth," said eMarketer analyst Bill Fisher. "Such a slowdown in the rate of penetration suggests that most of those who want a tablet likely already have one, with more sales than ever likely to be replacements."

He predicted that almost three-quarters of the U.K. Internet population would be tablet users by 2019.

Apple's iPad continues to dominate the U.K. tablet market. It still accounts for the majority of the U.K. tablet audience, "though Apple's slice of the pie is getting smaller every year as consumers purchase devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note, Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire," eMarketer said.

Apple's iPad will account for less than half of the U.K. tablet market for the first time in 2016, and its tablet audience share will decline by 6.1 percentage points by 2019, the research firm predicted.

Twitter: @georgszalai