With all the buzz around tablet computers, you’d think everyone and her uncle – and possible even her uncle’s dog – owns a tablet. But new data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that tablet adoption has slowed substantially in recent months, while ownership of e-book readers has accelerated.
Both product categories remain eclipsed by more mature technology, with cellphones being the common personal tech owned by Americans.
From the study:
The share of adults in the United States who own an e-book reader doubled to 12% in May, 2011 from 6% in November 2010. E-readers, such as a Kindle or Nook, are portable devices that allow readers to download and read books and periodicals. This is the first time since the Pew Internet Project began measuring e-reader use in April 2009 that ownership of this device has reached double digits among U.S. adults.
Tablet computers—portable devices similar to e-readers but designed for more interactive web functions—have not seen the same level of growth in recent months. In May 2011, 8% of adults report owning a tablet computer such as an iPad, Samsung Galaxy or Motorola Xoom. This is roughly the same percentage of adults who reported owning this kind of device in January 2011 (7%), and represents just a 3 percentage-point increase in ownership since November 2010. Prior to that, tablet ownership had been climbing relatively quickly.
Why the leveling off? The Pew study doesn’t speculate, but I suspect the early adopters who were going to buy tablets have made their move, and the masses are approaching this new platform more cautiously. Growth may pick up again as prices come down and more competitors enter the market with products that can seriously challenge Apple’s dominant iPad.
The e-reader numbers are not surprising – other than the fact that they’re somewhat low overall. Prices for e-readers have been dropping quickly as Amazon and Barnes & Noble compete with lower-cost Kindles and Nooks.
And expect both categories to get a jolt later this year if Amazon enters the arena with a full-fledged tablet product. Rumors in...