NEW YORK: Nearly a fifth of consumers in China, the UK and US now own a tablet, up from less than 5% late last year, according to a new report.

Citigroup, the financial services provider, surveyed 1,800 people in these three nations, and found the proportion of respondents possessing slate devices had grown from 3% to 18% since November 2010.

Penetration has reached 21% in China, ahead of 17% for Britain and America. Similarly, 26% of the Chinese sample were "very likely" to purchase a tablet, falling to 12% for both the UK and US.

Citigroup's analysis revealed 31% of its panel were at least somewhat keen to buy such a gadget, versus 14% late last year. In all, 77% of this group would like to obtain an iPad, climbing from 73% in the same period.

Alternatives powered by Microsoft Windows witnessed a slide from 52% to 40%, and equivalents utilising Google's Android operating system enjoyed a two-percentage point gain, to 38%.

Price remained the "primary inhibitor" to greater uptake, mentioned by 39% of adults questioned, although a "lack of functionality" when compared with PCs was another common factor.

A 62% share of tablet owners saw it as a "toy/gadget", growing from 44% in 2010. Meanwhile, 18% had acquired one for work, a lift from 13%, while giving someone the device as a gift logged 18%, down from 27%.

Overall, 94% of iPad owners have downloaded apps, with 63% accessing 11 or more such tools, totals standing at 79% and 37% in turn for individuals using competing products.

Thus far, 81% of the iPad population have paid for applications, measured against just 43% of customers for rival brands. Equally, iPad users had paid for 39% of apps, declining to 22% for users of other slates.

Data from the US and UK showed 67% of the tablet audience surf the web via this route, with 55% sending email and instant messages, 31% reading ebooks, 33% social networking and 17% playing games.

Looking forward, the number of people expecting to log on to social networks in this way fell to 29%, with gaming also sliding to 14%, but both pastimes are likely to see rising interest.

Elsewhere, the study reported that laptop ownership rates had climbed from 62% to 81% since November 2010, figures hitting 28% and 59% respectively for smartphones.

Data sourced from PC Mag, Barron's, AllThingsD; additional content b Warc staff