The iPad has changed the way Americans use tablets and access website content, which has led to greater interest in the devices.

A report from Yahoo found that tablets are quickly becoming the preferred devices for a number of tasks typically associated with desktop or laptop PCs. While more users consume news or entertainment-related content on their mobile devices, sales for tablets continue to rise and will do so steadily through at least 2017, according to a report from NPD DisplaySearch.

Yahoo’s study suggests that consumers are using their tablets to access website content throughout the day. Whether it’s the 91 percent that said their iPad or other device is the tool they use to browse the web access articles and blog content before going to bed, or the increasing amount that prefers a tablet to television, the reach of news articles grows as more people use tablets.

According to NPD, there were approximately 82 million tablets in use in the U.S. in 2011. By 2017, the company expects 424.9 million handsets to be used regularly by Americans. In the next two years, NPD expects the number to top out at 184.2 million, based on current growth and demand figures.

Apple’s iPad remains the best seller in the tablet market, but it’s likely that handsets from other companies, running a number of operating systems, will become more popular moving forward. Already, the Amazon Kindle Fire, which uses Google’s Android, has accounted for growth in the market.

“So far in this relatively young product category, the tablet PC market has been dominated by Apple,” Richard Shim, NPD DisplaySearch senior analyst, said in a relase.

“However, as the market matures, and competitors become better attuned to consumer preferences … we expect the landscape to change dramatically, giving consumers more choices, which will drive demand for more devices.”

Brafton recently reported that Amazon’s handset accounts for more than half of all tablets running on Android. Despite only being released in November, the sleek 7-inch device has attracted consumers looking for an easy way to access website content and other items on the web.

Moreover, NPD found that the Kindle Fire’s value as a high-end e-reader attracted a greater audience than most Android-powered devices. As a result of its greater capability, companies using content marketing campaigns for SEO can target Kindle fire users with news articles and blog posts, as it’s increasingly used for search.

According to Yahoo, the utility of the device has shifted its role for many users, as tablets are no longer used just for reading on the train or picking up a new bestseller. Fifteen percent of consumers said they would give up their car for an entire year before sacrificing their tablet. Similarly, families with tablets in the household are finding instant access to the internet and engaging website content has made it the second most fought over device in the household, behind laptops and desktops.

Brafton recently reported that iPad deployments are becoming more common in businesses as well with the device accounting for 97 percent of activations in workplaces throughout the U.S. Morever, a separate Brafton article found that Apple’s iOS accounts for substantial mobile search activity, which could help B2B marketers leveraging SEO and content marketing to drive site traffic and conversions. With 70 percent of all B2B buyers saying that they turn to search engines to conduct research on purchase decisions, maintaining a strong presence on search could help businesses attract prospects using iPads as their main gateway to the web.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.