Study finds that e-reader growth has surpassed tablets in recent months

Jun 29, 2011
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For the first time since the Pew Internet Project began tracking e-reader use in spring 2009, ownership of the portable reading devices has reached double digits. The project found that e-reader growth has accelerated in the past six months, as tablet growth has stagnated slightly, following a steep rise in the number of users after last year’s iPad launch.

Twelve percent of U.S. adults owned a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader as of May, compared with 6 percent last November. During the same period, tablet computer ownership, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom and iPad, rose to 8 percent from 5 percent. Approximately 3 percent of adults responding to the May survey reported having both a tablet and an e-reader.

The reason for the more rapid rise of e-reader use when compared with tablets could be due to the fact that e-readers such as the Nook Color are becoming more like tablets themselves, offering apps of all types, full-color displays and mobile operating systems such as Android. Additionally, e-readers offer such features at a much lower price point than tablets such as the iPad.

Pew also noted demographic patterns that were similar between tablet and e-reader users, although men are more likely to own tablets than women. Also, it was found that the uptake of e-readers in the past few months by parents has grown more than by non-parents. E-reader ownership among adults aged 18 to 49 grew at the most rapid pace of all age groups, while tablet ownership grew most among adults aged 18 to 29.

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With Amazon potentially launching a tablet in the near future, there is great potential for tablet uptake to increase at the same rate or faster than e-reader uptake, most likely depending on the price points and features offered on such a device. Although with Barnes & Noble seeking to turn its e-reading device into a more of a tablet with each launch, Apple and other tablet makers are going to have to continue to step-up their mobile computing game to compete in this race.

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Morgan Phelps

Morgan is a writer, editor and occasional photographer serving up news and reviews with a healthy dose of sarcasm from Sunnyvale, CA.

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