Though the tablet computer has not been with domestic users for long, if you take a look around any city train, you’re likely to see someone using one to read, or at a conference there will be speakers clutching their electronic notes on a slab of some sort.

So as the portable computer rises, it is time for a closer look at how people use their tablets and their habits.

Today, the Online Publishers Association (OPA) has released “A Portrait of Today’s Tablet User – Wave II,” which does just that and has a few interesting nuggets of info about how people make use of these shiny machines.

The main use, rather obviously, is accessing content and information at 94%. 64% of users accessed the Internet and 66% used tablets for checking email. That seems to be very similar to laptop habits in general.

The study also showed that tablet users’ primary content-related activities include: watching video – 54%, getting weather information – 49%, and accessing national news – 37% and entertainment content – 36%.

This makes sense for a portable device with a good screen that is usually handy.

The OPA collaborated with Frank N. Magid Associates to conduct the study. Magid surveyed a US nationally-representative online group of 2,540 people, ages 8 to 64 years old between March 19 and March 26, 2012.

The survey found that current U.S. tablet adoption is at 31% in 2012 or 74m users, up from 12% in 2011 and is expected to reach 47% by Q2 2013.

It seems that tablet users are willing to pay for reliable services and content too. Pam Horan, President of the OPA says:

“The growing base of tablet users is also showing a healthy appetite for paid content with 61% having purchased tablet content in the past year. Considering tablets have only been available for a little over two years, the findings of this study truly underscore the possibilities for publishers to grow their business as consumers are willing to open their wallets in order to have original content at their fingertips.”

With that in consideration, it is not surprising that tablets are becoming prime real estate for advertising and marketing. Horan says:

“The survey also showcased great opportunities for advertisers as 38% of tablet users have made a purchase after having seen tablet advertising. We also found that tablet users purchased an average of $359 in products from the device in the past year. In addition to strong purchasing trends, 29% of tablet users also indicated that tablet advertising drives them to research products and 23% have clicked on an advertisement.”

Those are very healthy figures which also point out that eCommerce sites really do need to be optimised for mobile and tablet use. If users are so willing to click through from adverts, it would be a shame to turn them away by having a badly presented service.

They survey doesn’t point out of the click through rates also consider ‘accidental clicks’. A few of the Next Web team are prone to this and it could be counting as a false positive.

There were a few other interesting findings in the study. Those who have tablets appear to use them frequently, 74% daily and 60% several times a day. Users spend an average of 13.9 hours per week with their tablets.

Naturally apps are the way things work on tablets and paid apps account for 23% of all tablet apps downloaded in the past year. According to this survey, the tablet app market has doubled with an estimated $2.6 billion spent in 2012, up from $1.4 billion in 2011. This is hardly surprising as tablet computing becomes more common.

Two screens better than one

As predicted by technologists even when tablets were just emerging on the market, two-screen or cross-platform consumption is playing a big part in user activity. Horan points out:

“The survey also found that tablet users are increasingly becoming cross-platform consumers, with 32% of tablet users simultaneously using two screens for 3.1 hours per day and 29% simultaneously using three screens for 2.8 hours per day. The two and three screen audiences are also more likely to purchase a product after seeing tablet advertising, then the general tablet population, providing an incredible opportunity for cross-platform advertising campaigns.”

So although we’re only two years or so into domestic use, the tablet computer appears to be taking hold in people’s lives. As a handy bit of technology with an ever-expanding set of use cases, this is not surprising. But research like this at least points toward current trends and how we may be using tablets in future.

To take a look at the study for yourself, head over to the OPA site to download a copy.

Image Credit: Veronica Belmont