US tablet ownership surges

24 January 2012

NEW YORK: Ownership levels of tablets and e-readers almost doubled in the US over the holiday period, research has revealed.

The Pew Research Center partnered with the Gates Foundation and Princeton Survey Research Associates International to poll 2,986 people, finding that 19% currently own a tablet. This is an increase from the 10% who said the same in December 2011.

In, November 2010 tablet ownership stood at just 5%.

According to the latest figures, uptake hit 21% for Hispanic and African-American consumers, 24% for 18–29 year olds and 27% for 30–49 year olds, versus 15% for 50–64 year olds and 7% for over-65 year olds.

Penetration of the devices was linked to household income, rising to 36% for homes earning $75,000 or more a year, and falling to 8% for incomes below $30,000.

The primary drivers supporting the trend included the roll out of new devices such as Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook, which are available at a lower price than the iPad.

When discussing e-readers, the analysis showed that penetration had, as with tablets, grown from 10% to 19% from December 2011 to January 2012, and more than trebled the 6% logged in November 2010.

The balance between male and female ownership levels came in at 9% and 11% respectively, whereas men had a slightly higher uptake rate for tablets than women, at 11% and 10% in turn.

Elsewhere, the number of respondents owning one or both of a tablet or e-reader climbed from 18% in December 2011 to 29% in January 2012.

Once again interest peaked among 30–49 year olds at 24%, falling to a low of 12% for over-65 year olds, who have proved more enthusiastic about these products than tablets.

"These findings are striking because they come after a period from mid-2011 into the autumn in which there was not much change in the ownership of tablets and e-book readers," the study reported.

"However, as the holiday gift-giving season approached the marketplace for both devices dramatically shifted."

Data sourced from Pew Research Center; additional content by Warc staff