Thanks to Apple, we know that there’s a market for tablet computing devices. But what we still don’t know is how the growth of tablet devices will impact the usage of other computing devices.

Some, not surprisingly, believe that the tablet is a killer. A popular meme on this front: the iPad is killing netbooks. But is that really the case?

According to a survey conducted by Nielsen, many tablet owners in the U.S. are using their desktops, laptops and netbooks less frequently, but relatively few have ditched those devices entirely.

For instance, 32% of tablet owners report using their computers less frequently, but only 3% have tossed their desktops. Interestingly, not only are 56% of tablet owners using their desktops at the same clip, 9% say they’re using them more frequently since purchasing a tablet.

Across the board, a similar pattern is seen: tablet ownership is resulting in less frequent use of other devices for a meaningful minority of tablet owners, but the majority of tablet owners are using their other devices just as much if not more.

In some cases, Nielsen sees usage of non-tablet devices increasing substantially. When it comes to portable gaming consoles, for example, 22% of tablet owners indicate they’re using their consoles less, but a sizable 26% say that they’re using their consoles more.

So what gives? Is the tablet killing off other devices, or not? In answering this, it appears that there’s good news for publishers, digital marketers and all companies with a digital presence: the pie appears to be expanding.

Sure, some tablet owners are using other devices less, but in most cases the number using other devices at the same clip or even more exceeds the ‘less‘ camp. The most sensible explanation is that tablet use is for the most part increasing the amount of time their owners spend using digital devices.

With the greatest number of respondents (31%) saying that they’re attracted most to the tablet because it’s “easy to carry/take with you“, this makes logical sense, as many are obviously using tablets in situations when they otherwise wouldn’t be connected at all.

If the trends Nielsen sees continue, it will be just one more reason to recognize that zero sum games often aren’t zero sum games. Developing a multi-channel digital strategy that recognizes the opportunities created by a world in which consumers are expanding their connected activity through multiple devices is thus crucial.