Eighteen months after the introduction of the Apple iPad, 11 percent of U.S. adults now own a tablet computer of some kind, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group. The study found that the vast majority of tablet owners-fully 77 percent-use their tablet every day, spending an average of about 90 minutes on them.
Sending and receiving email (54 percent email daily on their tablet) was a popular reason for owning a tablet device, along with social networking (39 percent), gaming (30 percent), reading books (17 percent), or watching movies and videos (13 percent). Outside of consuming news, the only activity people said they were more likely to do on their tablet computer daily is browse the Web generally (67 percent).
Half of those with a tablet share it with other members of the household. And the iPad still dominates the market; 81 percent of tablet owners surveyed own the Apple product. The study found one reason early tablet adopters may have integrated the devices so significantly into their daily lives is tied to the demographic profile of the tablet-owning population. In general, they are middle-aged, higher-income working individuals who follow the news more closely and more frequently than the population overall.
The Pew report probed at three different levels the behavior of 1,159 tablet users and 894 who consume news on their tablets weekly. The study, conducted in the summer and early fall of 2011, assessed the penetration of tablets and the general activities people use their tablets for across a representative sample of the U.S. population. The study also probed into how tablet users get different kinds of news and information on these devices and asked them to evaluate their experience using the device, including how that experience relates to other platforms.
The study, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, involved a survey of the general public and three separate surveys. The first was a general population survey. The next two surveys were conducted with a Pew Research Center panel of more than 1,000 tablet users. The panel was developed through interviews with 40,000 U.S. adults. A telephone survey was conducted with 1,159 tablet users and 894 tablet news users, and a Web-based survey was conducted among a select group of those news users about their news habits over the past seven days.
The survey also found that 3 in 10 tablet news users (defined for the study as the 77 percent of all tablet users who get news at least weekly) say they now spend more time getting news than they did before they had their tablets. Whether people will pay for content, though, still appears to be a challenge, even on the tablet. Just 14 percent of these tablet news users have paid directly for news content on their tablets. Another 23 percent, though, have a subscription to a print newspaper or magazine that they say includes digital access.