The Rise of the Tablet Computer

Few electronic devices have enjoyed the rapid surge in popularity and usage that tablet computers have. Many consumers consider the January 27, 2010 announcement of the launch of Apple’s iPad by the late Steve Jobs as the birthdate of the tablet computer, however, tablets as we know them today have existed for over 20 years.

According to Techradar, the first real tablet computer was the GRIDPad, launched in 1989. This basic, mono-color portable computing device had a 10-inch screen and boasted ucdm 3-hours of battery life, however, the whopping $2,400 price tag kept this early tablet out of reach for the average user. Since that time, tablet-like touchscreen devices such as PDA’s gained in popularity, proving to computer companies that there was strong demand for portable computing devices. In 2007, the Amazon Kindle was launched, introducing readers to a portable, paperless way to read their favorite books.

Tablets now rank among the most popular electronic devices throughout the world. Techcruch reports that eMarketer estimates there were approximately 13 million U.S. tablet users in 2010, 33.7 million in 2011 and an estimated 54.8 million in 2012. According to this report, the number of Americans who use devices like the Microsoft Surface, Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 will grow to 90 million by 2014, meaning that about half of all American adults will own a tablet device within a few years.

What Makes Tablets So Popular?

Tablet computing has become wildly popular among a broad range of consumers, with everyone from schoolchildren to senior citizens using tablets at school, home and work. According to a June 2012 report from the Online Publishers Association (OPA), “tablet usage is exploding”, with content consumption (watching movies, reading e-books, buying apps and shopping) being the most common reason why people use tablets.

Just How Popular Are Tablets?

Research by the OPA revealed that tablet owners use their tablets a lot – spending an average of 14 hours every week on their devices. Most tablets are used to access information on the Internet, with checking email, game playing, social networking and media consumption also ranking among the most frequent uses of tablet computers.

Tablet computers have even become a fixture in fast food restaurants, with a Virginia Beach McDonald’s offering up free Apple iPad use with their fries, burgers and shakes.

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