Two new forecasts have highlighted the significant slowdown expected in the global tablet market.

More than one billion people worldwide will use a tablet in 2015, according to new figures from eMarketer, representing nearly 15 percent of the global population and more than double the number of three years ago.

However, after user number growth in excess of 54 percent in 2013 and 29 percent in 2014, this year it is set to increase by a modest 17.1 percent.

By 2018, when the number of tablet users in the world will reach 1.43 billion, the growth rate for new users will be just 7.9 percent.

The slow down is backed up by figures released from Gartner earlier this week, which predicted that worldwide tablet sales will reach 233 million units in 2015, an eight percent increase.

Gartner Research Director Ranjit Atwal said global sales of tablets had been showing double-digit growth in 2013 and 2014 and the “steep drop” can be explained by several factors.

He said: “One is that the lifetime of tablets is being extended - they are shared out amongst family members and software upgrades, especially for iOS devices, keep the tablets current.

Another factor includes the lack of innovation in hardware, which refrains consumers from upgrading.”

According to eMarketer, tablets continue to be perceived as luxury items in terms of price and face increased competition from other emerging connected devices, including wearables.

Senior Analyst Cathy Boyle said: "The shared nature of tablets and increased competition from other connected devices reduce the likelihood that the tablet audience will match the size of the smartphone audience worldwide.

“The most limiting factor is the use case for a tablet: It is not as clear-cut or compelling as a communication tool, the core capability and use case for a smartphone."

China will be the world leader in terms of tablet users in 2015, eMarketer said, with more than 328 million consumers accessing these devices at least once per month – nearly one-third the world's total.

The US is a distant second, with fewer than half the number China has. The UK has the largest number of tablets in Europe.

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