NEW YORK: Consumer interest in buying tablets is increasing around the world, with these gadgets apparently set to encroach on the territory of other devices, a multimarket study has argued.

The Boston Consulting Group, the advisory firm, surveyed 8,700 adults in China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and US, all of which used the web, and read books, magazines and newspapers. Overall, 30% of Americans questioned now own a tablet or e-reader, up from 16% a year ago.

Totals are lower elsewhere, but had still risen fourfold in the UK to 27% during this period, and tripled in France and Spain.

Half of the US participants that do not already own this kind of gadget are also keen to buy one, climbing to more than 70% in China, and while actual purchase rates will probably lag such figures, the trend is positive.

Some 53% of people hoping to buy a tablet would do so instead of opting for a netbook, standing at 56% for e-readers, 36% for notebooks and laptops, 31% for a home PC, 29% for smartphones and 20% for TV sets.

Among tablet owners, 49% indicated it may replace their laptop or notebook, coming in at 41% for home PCs and netbooks, 36% for e-readers, 21% for TV sets and 20% for smartphones.

Exactly 93% of this audience use their tablets at home in the evening. In all, 88% did so during the daytime, including 49% during breakfast, 48% at lunchtime and 35% at dinnertime.

Currently, 90% of tablet owners use them to access the web, reaching 87% for email, 55% for social networking, 59% for watching video, 58% for reading e-books and e-magazines and 54% for listening to music.

When it comes to buying gadgets such as the iPad or Galaxy Tab, US shoppers are willing to pay between $140 and $240 for a tablet. The midpoint between these figures had grown by $35 year on year.

In Europe, these amounts stood at $250-$350, with the midpoint rising by $100 from the previous year. In China, the price range was $280-$440, a $185 increase.

"The iPad, whose least expensive model is $499 in the US (more in other countries), is priced too high for many consumers," the study said. "The market remains open for devices that may not fully match the iPad's one-size-fits-all functionality but still provide the personal and portable Internet access consumers crave."

In all, 68% of US shoppers would prefer to purchase a "multipurpose" device like the iPad to a "single-purpose" e-reader like the Barnes & Noble Nook, a 26% increase year on year, BCG added.

Data sourced from the Boston Consulting Group; additional content by Warc staff