Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This holiday season, the tablet goes mainstream

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — 'Tis the season of the tablet. Despite the gloomy economy, shoppers are expected to shell out for tablet computers this December, making them about as popular as candy canes and twinkling lights.


The glossy-screened gadgets are the most-desired electronic devices this holiday season. And, of all the gifts people are craving, tablets are second only to clothing, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. The industry group expects U.S. consumers to spend an average of $246 on electronic gifts, including tablets.

With help from his three siblings, Bob Cardina, 26, plans to purchase an iPad for his parents for Christmas. Cardina and his sister live in Washington. His parents live in Tampa, Florida. So he's excited to be able to video chat with his parents — them on the new iPad, him on his iPhone. He thinks his mother will be especially happy with the gift. One of her friends has an iPad and she's "definitely taken a liking to it," he said.

To be sure, tablets were on some wish lists last year, but they were mostly prized by gadget geeks. In the past year, they have become more mainstream. Consumers have become comfortable using touch screens, especially as smartphones continue to proliferate. Tablets are popping up in unexpected places, too. Apple Inc.'s iPad in particular is being used as a learning tool in schools, a digital cash register in shops and a menu at restaurants.

In 2010, people were "trying to figure out what the whole tablet thing was about," says Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi. "Now, people know what to do with a tablet." Learn More...

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