Tesco Hudl tablet

Tablet ownership has soared in a year; Tesco’s Hudl launched last year

The number of UK households with a tablet device has almost doubled in a year – to 44%, a new study from Ofcom has revealed.

More than four in 10 households reported owning a tablet in Q1 2014, compared with 24% a year previously, according to Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report (PDF), published today. Around 14% of homes own two or more tablets, with take-up peaking during the Christmas period.

Ownership of smartphones has also jumped – from 51% in 2013 to 61% in 2014, just shy of laptop ownership, on 63%.

While Ofcom – unsurprisingly – noted more engagement with technology from younger people, tablet take-up among over-55s has also increased: 28% of over-55s now own a tablet, versus just 4% two years ago.

The trend towards greater tablet ownership has been noted and indeed fostered by the major grocers: Tesco’s Hudl tablet, launched in September 2013, sold around 550,000 units in its first eight months, prompting the supermarket to announce the launch of a Hudl smartphone later this year.

And Aldi today announced a flash sale on smartphones and tablets as part of a special buy promotion.

In recognition of the increasing shift to mobile devices, Ofcom’s report also found that mobile advertising spend doubled to £1bn in 2013.

Media consumption rises

Total media consumption – from viewing TV to surfing the internet – rose across the UK, from 8 hours 48 minutes of total media activity per day in 2010 to more than 11 hours seven minutes in 2014. However, because some activities are conducted concurrently, this activity is squeezed into 8 hours 41 minutes per day.

Perhaps ominously for retailers, the report also found that average monthly household spend on communication services fell in real terms: from £126.73 in 2008 to £117.08 in 2013.

“Our research shows that a ‘millennium generation’ is shaping communications habits for the future,” remarked Ofcom CEO Ed Richards. “While children and teenagers are the most digitally-savvy, all age groups are benefitting from new technology.

“We’re now spending more time using media or communications than sleeping. The convenience and simplicity of smartphones and tablets are helping us cram more activities into our daily lives.”