Dramatic Rise of Tablets and e-Readers Spurs Questions

Tablet and e-reader ownership rises dramatically

Now we know what presents everyone was buying over the holidays—for family and themselves. Tablet and e-reader ownership almost doubled in the last month. And now, amazingly, 1 out of every 4 Americans has one of these devices, according to a new study released yesterday from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The findings “have major implications for every media company, especially book publishers, everyone in a knowledge business, and key community institutions like libraries,” said Lee Rainie, director of the center. “They show how radically the tectonic plates of information creation and dissemination are shifting under our feet.”

Rainie believes that the shift is occurring because consumers see that their daily infrastructure is quickly adapting to these new devices. There’s “an interesting ‘supply side’ part of the story that is…likely driving this spurt of adoption,” he said. “Publishers are putting a lot of effort into e-books; apps developers and media companies are cranking out more and more tools to use on tablets; libraries are making e-books easier to borrow. So, the ecosystem of these devices is becoming more valuable to consumers. It’s a particularly striking version of a classic tech-adoption story. Prices are falling on devices and the value to consumers of using them is increasing.”

The number of Americans owning at least one of these digital reading devices increased from 18% in December to 29% in January. And the share of adults in the U.S. who own tablet computers nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in that same period. These are revelatory numbers. “In the time we have been doing surveys about the adoption and use of digital technology, we have never seen growth quite like this,” said Rainie.

With prices of these devices dropping, income is becoming less of a factor. Now 16% of people making $30,000-$50,000 own a tablet computer compared to 20% of people making $50,000-$70,000. And greater percentages (21) of the African American and Hispanic communities have tablets than the white population (19). Age-wise, 27% of 30-49 year-olds own a tablet compared to 24% of 18-29 year-olds and 15% of 50-64 year-olds.

The Pew Internet Project is studying the ownership of both devices as part of its effort to understand how people consume media (text, video, and audio) on the devices, how people use them to access the internet, and how mobile connectivity has affected users. There were a couple interesting comments on the New York Times article site:

“I (we) now own iPod touch, Kindle, and iPad, in that order. I was a skeptic on the iPad because of price, but now after using it, it is clear that its speed and ease-of-use should amortize that cost (time is money), together with its obvious physical durability ensuring it will last long enough. These are things you don’t ‘get’ until you have the device in-hand. Durability also means parent comfort sharing with kids.”

“I’ve got an iPad2. I sold my MacBookPro shortly after the iPad arrived. I purchased only one book so far – Steve Jobs’ biography – but I have quite a few more that serve me well. Those books are PDF versions of manuals for stuff I own and need regular reference to, like my cameras, garden equipment, and other stuff around my home. In fact, whenever I buy something new these days, I search for its manual to place on my iPad.”

As publishers, we know that it will—or perhaps even has already—become essential to deliver information on all formats, very much including tablets. SIPA events, publications, forums and conferences will continue to stand on the forefront of this new age to deliver the information you need to know. There is most definitely no turning back.


The emerging new channels of information
will be thoroughly discussed at the
Marketing Directors Roundtable
Feb. 23, 2012 in London

This upbeat, attendee-driven session will focus on
spotting effective opportunities to market with an
emphasis on ‘quick wins’ – tactics that can be
deployed quickly and cheaply to great effect.
Trainer: Rachel Maund from Marketability
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    Holy gigantic text batman! Is this entire article supposed to be in an h2 tag? It’s HUUUUGE in my RSS reader.


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