Tablets hold global appeal

04 March 2011

NEW YORK: Awareness levels and purchase intent concerning tablets and e-readers are rising around the world, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Some 67% of Americans were familiar with slates and e-readers, measured against 54% recorded in a parallel poll conducted during March 2010.

Figures on this score peaked at 73% in China, while the UK's rating climbed 16% on an annual basis, hitting 59%.

"The launch of tablets and e-readers is already among the most successful of a consumer electronics product," the company said.

"These devices are gaining mass acceptance faster than VCRs, MP3 players, or other comparable products at similar stages in their evolution."

The researchers surveyed 14,314 people living in 16 markets, a list featuring Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and US.

Purchase intent on the part of shoppers with prior knowledge about devices like Apple's iPad or Amazon's Kindle stood at 69% globally, off from the 73% registered 12 months ago.

Half of US contributors fitting this description wished to acquire at least one such product, a three percentage point increase since the previous piece of analysis.

"Tablets and e-readers are set to rapidly become the next must-have device," said Dominic Field, a BCG partner and US leader of the firm's media practice.

"The focus, therefore, will rapidly shift to key questions around who will win and how much value will be created or destroyed in the process."

Potential buyers in Italy displayed a willingness to spend a maximum $330 (€236; £202) for a tablet, standing at $260 for their German counterparts and $200 for Americans.

"While these amounts are below the $499 entry price of an iPad, they suggest where tablets could be selling in a year or so if prices fall in line with the price declines of other consumer-electronics products," BCG's study said.

Looking to e-readers, US interviewees pegged the upper limit at $130, only slightly under the $139 charged for the basic Kindle.

Overall, 53% of participants expressed a desire to obtain a tablet, dropping to 15% when discussing e-readers.

The specific functions commanding the greatest interest included surfing the net, on 85%, reading email, on 84%, and watching video, on 69%.

BCG argued that publishers and media owners should be encouraged regarding the prospects for generating revenues from this channel.

In the US, respondents would splash out between $5 and $10 for a digital book, a total coming in the $3 to $6 range for monthly magazine subscriptions and $5 to $10 for a newspaper equivalent.

Delivering interactive and engaging content will be the primary task in stimulating such demand, the report concluded.

Data sourced from Boston Consulting Group; additional content by Warc staff