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eReader Growth Outpaces Tablets as Kindles Catch On

A recent survey by Pew Research Center shows growth in both eReader and Tablet PC markets.  The ownership base for Kindle and Nook owners has doubled in the 6 months from November 2010 to May 2011, ending up at an impressive 12% of those polled.  Tablet ownership, over the same period, has seen a 3% jump.  The breakdown is about what one might expect in a lot of ways.  While it might just be a matter of curiosity for most at the moment, studies like this will be what determines the immediate future of these devices. The study takes into account 2,277 adults aged 18 and up.

Owners of eReaders like the Kindle are fairly evenly broken across the genders.  Parents are more likely to have picked up an eReader in the last six months than people without kids under 18.  The greatest growth among surveyed ethnic groups was in Hispanics, who jumped from 5% ownership to 15%.  The only group that seems to have dropped off in terms of eReader ownership was High School non-graduates, who went from 5% to 3%.  College graduates predictably jumped the most.

Tablet ownership grew along similar lines, though not necessarily the same ones.  Men, for example, are significantly more likely to own a tablet than women, with a large number of those surveyed saying that being able to impress others with their purchase was a priority.  This might have played into age demographic differences as well, since tablets showed the most growth in the 18-29 bracket.  eReaders, by comparison, did best with those 30-49. In the case of tablets, ownership among college graduates was actually outpaced by that of those with partial college completion.  Hispanics still lead the pack among reported ethnic groups.

Basically, everybody likes their new gadgets.  Men, especially younger men, are fond of the flashiness of the tablets.  Slightly older people of both genders are getting into the eReader market.  Overall, tablets are still lagging a bit behind, in spite of early predictions that they would spell the end of the eReader.  Possibly this has to do with the lack of serious competition among tablet makers, in which case we’ll likely be seeing some different numbers this time next year.  More likely would be that this is an indication of a trend toward dual-ownership.  A good 3% of those surveyed confirm that they have both types of device on hand.

For now, there are already groups where as many as 20% of those surveyed have adopted eReaders.  There has been noticeable growth in all households with an income greater than $30,000 per year.  Households over $75,000 per year are of course doing the most shopping for portable electronics, but the difference in growth between this and other income brackets is not as pronounced as it is among tablet owners.  They seem to be cheap enough to be accessible to, and appealing to, pretty much everybody.  Pricing the Kindle at just $114 might be the smartest move Amazon could have made.  It will likely surprise nobody if the upcoming Kindle Tablet undercuts the competing iPad by more than a little bit to take advantage of the trends.

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