Sales of media tablets in Australia doubled in 2013 to reach 4.8 million units, according to a study released by Telsyte.

The technology analyst firm estimates that the 'population penetration' of media tablets has now reached 40 per cent, meaning that some 9.4 million Australians have access to a tablet in some form. This is expected to increase to 22 million by 2018.

The company also predicted penetration of tablets to exceed personal computers some time in 2015.

Nearly half of owners responding to the survey see tablets as becoming their primary computing device over the next few years. The firm said computer/PC purchase intentions continue to be severely impacted by media tablets.

Telsyte managing director, Foad Fadaghi, said the shift in preferences has created new digital opportunities that span consumer services, education and entertainment.

Tablet sales are booming, Telsyte reporting that year-on-year Apple sales grew by 52 per cent to 2.6 million units in 2013. Android media tablet sales grew by 186 per cent, with more than 1.9 million devices purchased over the same period.

The company said that tablets are proving to be a popular gift, with nearly a quarter of all devices on the market originally purchased as presents.

Drive of low cost devices

Telsyte said it identified the tablet market as having entering a new age. This has been encouraged by the availability of a range of low cost Android devices.

The company broke the market up into three segments for its study. Low cost devices being defined as those retailing for $200 or less, medium as devices priced between $200 and $450 and high cost devices costing in excess of $450.

Telsyte estimated that 29 per cent of sales in 2013 were in the low to medium brackets. The firm suggested that these segments will grow to over 50 per cent of total sales by 2018, given current trends.