By Max Clarke

Sales of tablet computers have mushroomed in the past year, as more and more manufacturers hop on the Tablet PC bandwagon.

eBay alone reports a 1000% increase in the devices in the year. And with the recent release of Research in Motion’s highly anticipated BlackBerry Playbook, sales are forecast to increase.

Interestingly, the increased use of portable web devices is in itself changing the way people shop: the round the clock connectivity offered by smartphones and tablets is increasing volumes of online sales, pushing up activity at sites like eBay.

“People shop differently on mobile and tablets versus traditional PCs,” explains Angus McCarey, Retail Director for eBay UK,” they spend more money , do more browsing and purchase across a wider variety of products. iPad shoppers on eBay spend approximately 40% more than an average iPhone user, and we expect to see similar trends with other tablet users.”

Mobile continues to be the fastest growing part of eBay’s business, with global mobile sales expected to double again in 2011 to over $4 billion. In May 2011, sales of tablets accounted for around 15% of computers sold on, compared to around 3% at the same time last year. Laptops and netbooks accounted for around 70% of computer sales last month on eBay in the UK, compared to almost 80% in May 2010.

The findings of a recent eBay study carried out by Verdict found that mobile shopping could deliver a £4.5bn boost to Britain’s economy by 2016 and a further £13bn by 2021. The research also revealed that m-commerce is on the verge of a potential four-fold increase over the next five years as consumers become more comfortable with shopping via smartphones and tablet computers.

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