Tablet, E-Book Reader Sales Soar Over Holidays: Pew

Tablet and e-book reader ownership jumped from 10 to 19 percent in the few weeks from just mid-December to early January, says a new report from the Pew Internet Project.

Tablet and e-book sales got a tremendous boost by holiday shoppers, according to a new study from the Pew Internet Project, which found ownership of the devices among U.S. adults rose from 10 percent to 19 percent from mid-December to early January.
Thanks to those holiday shoppers-and recipients-29 percent of adults are now thought to own at least one such device, up from 18 percent in mid December.
Pew called the findings "striking," given the minimal change in e-book reader and tablet ownership it saw from mid-2011 into the autumn. As the holidays arrived, however, manufacturers made their moves.
"In the tablet world, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet were introduced at considerably cheaper prices than other tablets," said the study. "In the e-book reader world, some versions of the Kindle and Nook and other readers fell well below $100."
Across nearly all demographics, ownership of tablets jumped from single-digit to double-digit percentages from November 2010 to mid-January. The three exceptions were with users older than 65, those without a high school diploma and households with an annual income of less than $30,000. In the majority of instances, the growth from just mid-December 2011 to mid-January 2012 was higher than from the whole year of November 2010 to December 2011.
Currently, ownership is highest in households with an annual income of greater than $75,000 (36 percent, compared to 22 percent in mid-December), among college graduates (31 percent, up from 17 percent in mid-December), among users 30 to 49 years of age (27 percent, up from 14 percent in mid-December), among African-American and Hispanic users (21 percent, compared to, respectively, 9 and 10 percent in mid-December, compared with 19 percent of white users).
At 19 percent, men and women are now equal in their ownership of tablets, though men started the season a point ahead.
Gender-wise, e-book readers have always been a different story, and remain so, said the study, with women still dominating ownership. By mid-January, 21 percent of women owned an e-book reader, compared to 16 percent of men. In mid-December, those figures were 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Compared to tablet owners, the researchers were keen to note, the gaps between owners of e-book readers are less pronounced.
"For instance," wrote Pew, "19 percent of those in households earning $30,000-$50,000 have e-book readers. They are 12 percentage points behind those in households earning $75,000 or more in e-book reader ownership. The gap between those income levels on tablet ownership is 20 percentage points."
In September, analysts with research firm Gartner wrote that despite the growing number of Android-running tablets in the market, they expected the Apple iPad to thoroughly dominate sales, accounting for 73.4 percent of the 2011 tablet market, while no other platform was expected to gain more than a 5 percent share.
Amazon, after growing the e-reader market, in October introduced the Kindle Fire tablet, which analysts were quick to tap as the first competitor capable of taking a considerable bite out of Apple's market share. While not getting too specific, Amazon officials announced Dec. 29 that throughout December, the company sold "well over 1 million Kindle devices per week," though that included $79 Kindle e-readers as well as $199 Kindle Fire tablets. On Jan. 31, Amazon will announce the results of its fiscal 2011 fourth quarter, hopefully revealing the Kindle Fire's true footprint.
Amazon also offers a Kindle Lending Library for e-book titles, and in December alone, it reported Jan. 12, customers borrowed nearly 300,000 Kindle Direct Publishing Select titles.
The Pew study is part of an agenda funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to look at how use of tablets and e-book readers are affecting consumers' relationships with their local libraries and library services.