updated 03:15 pm EST, Fri February 4, 2011
Pew shows cellphones ubiquitous, tablets rare
Pew Research has published a new study uncovering just how prevalent technology is in the US. The cellphone is now ubiquitous and in the hands of 85 percent of adults in the country. iPads and other tablets are still very young, however, and just four percent of Americans have one.
The study also revealed that there was relatively little overlap in certain categories. About 52 percent of the US has a notebook, but 59 percent still have desktops, indicating that only a minority have both. An estimated 47 percent have an iPod or other pure MP3 player, and 42 percent have consoles. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-reader makers might have reason for concern as they only had a slight lead over tablets in ownership, at five percent, despite years of lead time.
Trends were working against computers as a whole, since both had declined in share even as phones and tablets were on the rise.
Age often had a direct correlation to adoption but wasn't necessarily as uniform as could be expected. Game console and MP3 player ownership appropriately dropped off quickly among the middle-aged, but cellphone ownership dropped off much more gradually and was still at 68 percent even for those as old as 74. The growth in notebooks might be age related as adoption was much higher among anyone 46 or younger where desktop ownership was consistent across generations.
Tablet and e-reader ownership was also seen as ageless and dropped relatively little. E-readers clearly appealed to older audiences, Pew said: ownership was highest in the younger wave of Baby Boomers and was nearly as high in the "silent" generation between 66 and 74. It didn't explain the gap between these and tablets, but the reassurance of a book-like screen and shape may have helped where there was more of a disconnect for tablets.
The research reinforced views that younger generations were adopting technology much more rapidly and that the youngest group could be almost entirely unfamiliar with landline phones, portable CD players and other technology that was once widespread.