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North America to account for half of global tablet spend in 2013, study finds

Tablet computers grow in importance for retailers

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. — At a time when more and more retailers are embracing mobile technology, North America is set to account for one of the highest percentages of tablet sales, according to a new study.

The study, by ABI Research, found that the United States and Canada would account for nearly half of the $72 billion spent on tablets in 2013. More than 39 million tablets were shipped worldwide during the first half of the year, representing the second-largest volume of shipments to date, the largest being during the last quarter of 2012. Much of the money will be spent on Windows tablets, the report found.

"Three regions of the world are expected to yield 97% of tablet revenues in 2013," ABI senior practice director Jeff Orr said. "North America is forecasted to claim nearly half of the estimated $72 billion expected to be spent this year on tablet devices. Western Europe and Asia-Pacific also will have their hands in the honey pot for a combined 50% of world tablet revenues, respectively."

Tablets have become an important component in many retailers' business, including pharmacy retailers. Rite Aid has fielded about 1,500 Wellness Ambassadors at its Wellness stores, who wield iPads to assist customers with questions about health-and-wellness products and services and direct them to the pharmacy; in some markets, particularly Buffalo, N.Y., the chain has integrated the NowClinic virtual clinic service with the iPads, allowing Skype-like communication between customers and clinical pharmacists. Meanwhile, CVS has launched a tablet app that includes a 3D simulation of a drug store.

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