Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Pew: Nearly One-Fifth of U.S. Adults Own Tablets or E-Readers

Last year’s back-to-school season may not have spurred a ton of tablet and e-reader purchases, but the holidays were a different story, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

The share of U.S. adults who own tablet computers nearly doubled from 10 percent to 19 percent between mid-December and early January, while the same growth spike also applied to e-book readers, which also jumped from 10 percent to 19 percent over the same period. The driving force behind the surge in ownership, Pew said, was the relatively low cost of tablets like the $199 Kindle Fire and the $249 Barnes & Noble Nook tablet, as well as the price of some e-readers dropping below $100.

The new data comes after a period — from mid-2011 into the fall — in which there wasn’t a lot of change in the ownership of tablets and e-book readers, Pew said.

We already had an inkling that the Amazon Kindle Fire sold very well in its first few weeks on the market; a Barclays analyst has estimated that Amazon sold 5.5 million Kindle Fire tablets last quarter, and predicts that Amazon will sell 18.4 million Kindle Fires this year, giving Amazon half of the non-iPad tablet market.

Also not entirely surprising: Households with higher incomes bought more tablets, while women’s ownership of e-readers increased more than men’s. More than a third of those living in households earning more than $75,000 — 36 percent — now own a tablet computer, Pew said. Ownership of e-readers among women grew more than among men, from 11 percent to 21 percent; compared to a 5 percent increase for men, with just 16 percent of them owning e-readers.

Anecdotally, those cheaper tablets still are harder to spot “out in the wild” than the iPad, as my AllThingsD colleague, Peter Kafka, notes here, whereas iPads seem to be popping up everywhere, from the airport to the gym. Personally, I know a handful of female adults who got either Kindle Fire tablets or less expensive Kindle e-readers this holiday season.

The Pew report comes from the combined results of two surveys — one conducted Jan. 5-8 among 1,000 adults age 18 and older; and another, conducted Jan. 12-15 of 1,008 adults, with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points. The study is part of Pew’s research, supported by funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to look at how tablets and e-readers are impacting libraries.

(Photo courtesy of DJ Murdok/Flickr)

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