NEW YORK (MainStreet) — While the previous decade was dominated by cell phones, the next decade will be dominated by tablet computers.

One in five Americans own a tablet or plan to purchase one by 2014, according to a new survey by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Fuze Box.

The survey, which is based on interviews with more than 2,000 consumers, found that young people are particularly likely to get a tablet in the coming years, with more than a quarter of those between 18 and 34 years old planning to purchase one by 2014.

Fuze Box estimates that some 9 million Americans already own tablets, many of which are undoubtedly iPads, given recent reports that Apple has sold more than 7.5 million of these products.

So far, most of the early adopters in the tablet market have been wealthier consumers who can afford to pay $500 or more for the device. But as new models come out from Apple and other companies, the price will likely drop, serving as an incentive for average consumers to purchase one.

Yet, even if tablets become standard in many homes, there is still one lingering question: How will consumers use them?

When Steve Jobs first debuted the iPad back in January of this year, many onlookers admitted that the gadget looked nice, but were unsure what it could do that cell phones, netbooks and laptops could not. Even six months after the device officially launched, these questions remained, as one study from the NPD Group found that most iPad users mainly just watched videos on the device and used it mostly while laying in bed.

But the Fuze Box study does shed some more light on this issue. The majority of consumers surveyed said they use the tablet or plan to use it to browse the Internet, send e-mails and read e-books or newspapers.

Funny, I thought we could do that already on cell phones and e-book readers, but I guess I was wrong.

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