Source: Flickr user Leon Lee.

Tablet use is higher than ever before. An estimated 52% of Americans used a tablet in 2013. Businesses are taking notice, and experimentation in the commercial uses of tablets has led to significant new mobile potential. As a result, these five companies are using tablets to make big changes.

DineEquity brings tablets to your tables
Tablet menus are swiftly growing into a mainstream trend for restaurants around the country. With proper software and upkeep, tablets are incredibly versatile, allowing customers to view menus, place orders, and digitally pay their bills. The potential to cut costs and enhance customer service is immense. One leader to watch in 2014 is DineEquity (NYSE:DIN), owner of both Applebee's and IHOP. Applebee's will be getting 100,000 table-installed tablets this year, with software designed to manage the dining experience from beginning to end, reducing time and saving money for DineEquity.

The restaurant corporation's stock has been on a steady rise in the 2010s, and investors were recently rewarded with a $0.75 first-quarter dividend, announced in February. However, while IHOP sales increased by 2.4% last year, Applebee's sales fell by 0.3%. The tablet adoption is likely designed to reinvigorate interest in the Applebee's chain and drive sales back up. If successful, the tablets may also make their way to the pancake house.

Hyatt Hotels replaces agents with apps
Can a tablet act as a service representative for a hotel? Hyatt Hotels (NYSE:H) is betting that it can. The company is working with Concierge Interactive to roll out tablet apps that would allow visitors to book rooms, set up spa dates, add personal requests, and create nearby vacation plans. Hyatt is another company that saw steady 2013 growth, which may be the reason the company feels confident investing in digital tech. Its 2013 fourth-quarter adjusted net income climbed to $51 million from $33 million in 2012. The company opened 16 new hotels in its recently reported fourth quarter and is planning to expand even further in 2014, so its tablet technology should get more use than ever before.

LVMH bets big on tablet cosmetics
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (OTC:LVMUY) is responsible for some of the most iconic brands in the fashion world, including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. But the Vuitton fashion lines are losing revenue and dismaying investors. Forecasts by Sanford Bernstein predict that in the next five years, Sephora cosmetic products will become LVMH's biggest and most profitable division.

Sephora has long been recognized as a leader in the tablet commerce sector. Its app features tutorials on how to use its cosmetics -- and once users have found a look they like, they can buy products directly from those tutorials. Between Black Friday 2012 and 2013, Sephora's tablet sales grew by 221%, while Thanksgiving tablet sales rose by almost 300%. If LVMH is betting on Sephora as its new moneymaker, expect even more tablet focus from the company.

News Corp packages education in tablets
Last year, the education division of News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS), Amplify, unveiled its own tablet, designed especially for the classroom. It was an ambitious move, but it failed to deliver good results (teachers and students found the tablets easily breakable). Now, News Corp is ready to try again. The company is dropping Asus and partnering with Intel to create newer tablets with extra durability and the same focus on schools. Amplify is also creating a digital curriculum to accompany the new tablets, which could drive additional revenue.

While News Corp's EPS beat analyst expectations in its most recently reported quarter, overall revenue dropped by 4% year over year as the company faced difficult advertising trends. Its news and information services took one of the biggest hits with a 9% decrease in sales. If its tablet program proves lucrative, Amplify could receive more attention from its parent, but if this second tablet also fails, News Corp may cut the education branch.

The bigger tablet scene
If the tablet strategies used by these companies succeed, it will mean new growth for all tablet producers. Chipmakers, retailers, and many others stand to benefit from this kind of experimentation. The mobile world is more exciting than ever, so keep tabs on ongoing developments in the industry.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.