A total of 4.8 million units of tablets were sold in Australia during 2013, more than twice the amount that reported during the first six months of last year, according to a study released by Telsyte.
The Telsyte Australian Media Tablet Study 2014, which excludes touchscreen Microsoft Windows notebooks and ultrabooks, shows that the explosion in sales resulted in the penetration of tablets reaching 40 percent of the population at the end of 2013, and estimates that 9.4 million Australians were using tablets at the end of the year.
Telsyte's survey also shows that tablet owners found that nearly half see their tablets becoming their primary computing device within the next few years. Furthermore, Telsyte found that computer/PC purchase intentions continue to be severely impacted by tablets.
"Australians are increasingly seeing their tablets as their main computing device in the home," Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said.
"This shift in preferences is creating new digital opportunities that span consumer services, education, and entertainment."
In fact, Telsyte estimates that the Australian tablet market at the end of 2013 was worth AU$2.4 billion, with nearly a quarter of devices in use originally purchased as gifts.
Year-on-year Apple sales in Australia grew by 52 percent to 2.6 million units in 2013, while Android tablet sales grew by 186 percent, with more than 1.9 million devices purchased over the same period.
Increased tablet usage is also impacting smartphones. Telstye indicates that nearly a quarter of Australian tablet users claim they are spending less time on their smartphones due to their tablets.
The firm has predicted that the usage of tablets will eventually reach 22 million by 2018, and that tablet penetration in Australia will exceed computer/PC penetration sometime during mid-2015.
On the other hand, there some who would argue against the use of a tablet. According to Derek Everett, director of worldwide product management for commercial Windows tablets at HP, tablets are just companion devices, because they are not quite mobile or productive enough to replace a notebook.
Telsyte also identified that the tablet market has entered a new phase, driven by the arrival of a range of capable low-cost Android devices.
The research firm segments the Australian media tablet market by low (less than $200), medium ($200-$450), and high ($450-plus) price groups. It estimates that 29 percent of units sold in 2013 were low or medium, and anticipates these segments to grow to over 50 percent of sales by 2018.
Telsyte said the trend towards low-cost devices is likely to impact Apple's market share, which had dropped from 72 percent in 2012 to 55 percent in 2013, despite introducing the iPad mini with Retina display and iPad Air.
Meanwhile, low-cost units are becoming a favourite secondary device in the household, with the study showing that one in five tablet owners have two or more tablet devices.
While tablets are currently homebodies, as they get more mobile data connectivity, people will be more likely to start carrying them around regularly, Ranjit Atwal, Gartner research director, predicted.
"People want to take their tablets with them," he said. "There is an evolution around how people use these devices."
Telsyte also found that the arrival of low-cost Android units is also impacting Samsung and other premium Android vendors that have been subject to increased price competition.
"Low-end devices are a popular secondary device for many households. We are also finding low-end tablets are popular amongst parents as a child minding device," Fadaghi said.
"Generally, consumers that purchase a low-end tablet are looking for value for money."