August 7, 2013, 3:21 PM

More than half of online shoppers in North America will have tablets by 2017

 905 million consumers worldwide will use tablets by 2017, says Forrester.

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60% of online consumers in North America and 29% of online consumers globally will use tablets by 2017, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc., “Global Business and Consumer Tablet Forecast Update, 2013 To 2017.”

In Europe 42% of consumers will use tablets by 2017, while in less economically developed regions 25% of consumers will use them, though some technologically advanced parts of Asia like Singapore and South Korea will have more consumers with tablets, Forrester says.

Smartphones will still be  the most popular type of mobile device in five years, with about 2.34 billion handsets in consumers’ hands worldwide, compared with about 1 billion today, according to the report.  But tablets will grow at a faster pace, with 905.26 million of them in use worldwide by 2017, up from about 150 million today. That’s roughly one tablet for every eight consumers on Earth in 2017, given a projected population of 7.3 billion for that year.

Currently, 12% of U.S. adults who own tablets use them to browse the web, with the majority of them doing so at home, while travelling or on their commutes, the report says.  Tablets are in less than 20% of U.S. households today, according to Forrester.

As tablets become more popular worldwide, Apple Inc.’s iOS mobile operating system will begin to lose some of its dominance, Forrester predicts. Apple, which is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide, has sold more than 140 million of its iPad tablets since introducing the device in 2010. The support system and app marketplace it has built up for those devices will ensure the company remains the top tablet provider worldwide in 2017, Forrester says. But the research firm says greater numbers of consumers will also own tablets running Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system or Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. 

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