Apple, Amazon Lead Slowing U.S. Tablet Market

With tablet sales slowing and the market growing more competitive, tech leaders like Apple and Amazon will need to convince consumers that tablets are a necessity.

Growth in the American tablet market is slowing down year over year, despite tablet penetration in the United States reaching 37 percent, a growth of 54 percent compared to the same period in 2012, according to a report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Apple, Amazon and Samsung are the top three brands in the U.S. market, owning 43 percent, 24 percent and 11 percent of the installed base.

The report revealed iPad users are the most engaged with 32 percent of users saying they use their iPad constantly throughout the day and 42 percent saying they use it at least once a day.

iPad users are also those that use the widest range of apps and services available on the device. Samsung tablets' users come next with 24 percent using their devices constantly throughout the day and 41 percent using it at least once a day.

Amazon comes last with just 18 percent of owners using their Kindle Fire constantly throughout the day and 40 percent using it at least once a day.

The report warned the task of convincing consumers who have not yet invested in a tablet to take the plunge would become increasingly more difficult in the coming years.

A weak value proposition is not only impacting the ability to convert tablet-rejecters but is also strictly linked to the fact that 47 percent of consumers who were unsure, and 25 percent of consumers who will definitely not buy a tablet in the next 12 months, find prices to still be too high.

"As you would expect for a market that started in 2010 with the first generation iPad, tablet awareness among consumers is high with only 4 percent of non-owners saying they have never heard of such a device," Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar, said in a statement. "However, with 67 percent of people who were unsure if they will buy a tablet in the next 12 months saying that they know very little about them, there is no doubt that vendors need to improve their messaging around the value of owning and using a tablet."

The majority (53 percent) of U.S. consumers interviewed in the fourth quarter of 2013 (4Q13) said they would not buy a tablet in the next 12 months while 34 percent were unsure.

Among those who are not planning to buy a tablet, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said that they are happy with their current laptop or PC and 42 percent said they are just not interested.

Despite the common belief that the lack of the keyboard is a major factor for rejecting tablets, only 20 percent of our respondents said they are not planning to buy a tablet because of this.

In the meanwhile, cheaper models are coming to market, and the average spend on tablets in the U.S. market has been decreasing from $326 in 4Q12 to $300 in 4Q13.

"With more hybrid devices coming to market with larger screens, more powerful and power-efficient processors consumers' consideration for tablets as an alternative to their current PCs will increase, if the price is right, of course," Milanesi continued. "It is clear that wanting to know more about tablets, and finding them expensive, are two sides of the same coin. For mainstream consumers tablets are still a nice to have and not a must have."