Love for the laptop lives on, although number of tablet computer owners doubles


The UK consumer’s favourite piece of technology is now the laptop (28%), knocking the TV (22%) from its top spot for the first time, according to Deloitte’s sixth annual State of the Media Democracy survey, which assesses media consumption preferences of consumers*.

The desktop computer came in third place at 19% and the smartphone came in fourth place at 10%. Deloitte estimates that five million UK citizens own eReaders.

In 2011, the number of tablet computer owners doubled, up to nearly three million, from 1.3 million in December 2010. Consumers of all ages have bought tablets, with 20% of 35 to 44 year olds owning them.

David Halstead, Deloitte technology partner, says: “Early adopters of tablets are expected to be male and under 35 years of age. Adoption by slightly older consumers runs contrary to historical precedent and reflects their utility for home and work use and distinctive, ‘must-have’ appeal.”

“Laptops have always been a favourite device but, with the growth in availability of streamed and downloadable TV and radio, there is now no form of entertainment that cannot be enjoyed or created on a laptop wherever it is carried to, be that a living room, coffee shop or holiday abroad. Their popularity reflects the fact consumers now demand their entertainment from many sources and in many locations.”

TV’s popularity

The TV remains remarkably and enduringly popular, only in London did it fall outside the top three most popular devices, illustrative of a broader characteristic of the London media consumer’s preference for handheld devices, due to the amount of time they spend commuting.

Smartphone use

Nearly half of all households (48%) now own a smartphone. They are being used as ‘all-in-one’ devices, helping them complete a number of different tasks:

  • Text messaging (93% in 2011 up from 87% in 2010)
  • Internet access (53% in 2011 compared to 32% in 2010)
  • Email (43% in 2011, nearly double that of 2010 at 24%).
  • Playing games (41% in 2011 and 27% in 2010)
  • Updating social networking pages (36% in 2011 compared to 21% in 2010).

Consumers want anytime, anywhere access to media

The UK population now consumes their media on a wider variety of platforms than ever before and the ability to move music, television shows, podcasts and movies to any device and platform, is their most desired new innovation. This service was requested by 42% of those surveyed and over half (53%) of Londoners.

A quarter (26%) of the survey group wanted to be able to buy and download magazines, newspapers and books onto any device they own, and nearly 30% wanted to store or backup all of their media to the cloud.

David Halstead adds: “Our research suggests as consumers acquire more devices on which to consume content, their appetite for services that allow them to move content from device to device will increase.”

“The UK consumer is more connected than ever before and owns devices that match their needs. The economic downturn has not prevented people from investing in devices and finding new ways of consuming, such as those found on tablet, ereader and smartphone devices. As technology, media and telecoms companies invest in new services that unify those screens into one experience, we believe the outlook for the device market in the United Kingdom will continue to be strong in 2012 and beyond.”


Other key findings

Londoners a breed apart

The average UK consumer now owns nearly 10 (9.7) devices capable of consuming media, up from 8.7 in 2010. People who live in London appear to own fewer devices than the national average – nine per person - and are more likely to own smartphones, tablets and ereaders, and less likely to have TVs, personal video recorders (PVRs), DVD players and games consoles.

European differences

The UK is the clear leader in device ownership within Europe, with the average consumer owning 20% more devices than the French and 14% more than Germans.

Entertainment device

Over half (58%) of 14-17 year olds say they use their smartphone as an entertainment device, falling to a third (35%) of 25-34 year olds and 27% of 35-44 year olds. 42% of 14-17 year olds say they are very interested in purchasing a smartphone in the near future.

Northerners (27%) and Londoners (28%) are most likely to use their smartphone for entertainment, compared to 18% of Scots. A quarter of Londoners (24%) are very interested in investing in a smartphone in the near future.

About the Survey

Deloitte’s sixth annual State of the Media Democracy survey assesses media consumption preferences of 2,276 UK consumers*, aged between 14 and 75 years old in the UK.

Focusing on four generations, the survey provides a ’reality check’ on how consumers between the ages of 14 and 75 are interacting with media, entertainment, and information, and what their preferences might be in the future.

Fielded by an independent research firm during December 2011, the survey employed an online methodology among 16,768 consumers in eight countries:

‒      Australia:  2,010

‒      France:   2,038

‒      Germany:   2,068

‒      India:   2,006

‒      Japan:   2,118

‒      Spain:   2,037

‒      United Kingdom:   2,276

‒      United States:   2,215

We regard changes of 5% or more as statistically relevant and where possible have referred to time series data from previous surveys.

Several companies have helped us shape the survey and discussed the initial results with us. We also referred to the results of other Deloitte research programmes in the media, telecoms, technology and retail markets, which can be found at or by contacting



The Deloitte Cambridge office comprises 8 Partners and over 250 staff who deliver a full range of professional services to the East Anglian region. As well as focussing on the life sciences and technology sectors for which the region has become so renowned, the office has long standing specialisms in other sectors including the professions, consumer business, food and agribusiness.

Deloitte LLP