updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon June 27, 2011
Pew shows e-reader growth rate outpacing tablets
E-readers are outpacing tablets by a rapidly widening margin, Pew said in a new study. After a brief amount of parity for the second half of the year, e-readers doubled from just over six percent ownership in the US last November to 12 percent this May. Outside of a brief spurt during the holidays, the growth of the iPad and other tablets kept the same pace and rose from five percent to eight in the same period.
Overlap between the two was significant: three percent had both. Nine percent of Americans have just an e-reader and no tablet, where only five percent have just a tablet.
In spite of the adoption, either category still trails well behind others, Pew says. Thanks to about ten years of Apple's own efforts with the iPod, 44 percent of the US has an MP3 player. More than half have a computer or a DVR, and 83 percent have cellphones. Notebook PCs are now virtually on par with desktops for popularity with just one point of difference between the two.
Pew gives little explanation for the gap, although price is often credited as the main factor. At $139 for the current Amazon Kindle versus a minimum $499 for an iPad, most tablets compete more closely with computers where e-readers are treated like MP3 players. Apple has been most effective in crashing netbook sales as well as some low-end notebooks.
E-readers may be pushed as lower-cost tablets, primarily from Android-based companies, drop in price. Barnes & Noble and Kobo have already been trying to hedge against the difference by developing touchscreen readers like the 2011 Nook and eReader Touch Edition.