Market Overview

New Data Show Tablets and E-Readers Exploding in Popularity

New Data Show Tablets and E-Readers Exploding in Popularity

It’s Tuesday—the day when Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expected to announce its refreshed line of iPads including the fifth generation iPad and the second generation iPad mini.

Most will credit Apple with starting the tablet craze and new numbers released by Pew Research Center show just how explosive the tablet market has been over the past four years.

As a reference point, Apple released its first iPad on April 3, 2010. Others, including one made by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) in the early 2000s were available but it wasn’t until the iPad that it became mainstream and popularity exploded. By May of 2010, Pew found that three percent of Americans owned a tablet.

One year later, in May of 2011, that number had jumped to eight percent and by December of the same year, 10 percent. By June of 2010 Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) had released a tablet and in September of 2010, Samsung (OTC: SSNLF) debuted its Galaxy Tab. At the consumer Electronics show in January of 2011, more than 80 tablets were on the market. The rapid growth in the number of product offerings fueled some of the growth since more affordable models were reaching the market.

Related: SLIDESHOW: iWatch Supplier, iPad Event And More From The Third Week Of October

By November of 2012, 25 percent or one out of every four Americans owned a tablet, and when the most recent data was compiled in September, Pew found that 35 percent—more than one of every three Americans, now own a tablet device.

As tablets became more popular, industry watchers speculated that it would be at the expense of e-book readers like the Kindle line of devices. The e-book numbers aren’t as impressive as the tablet figures but the demise of the e-book reader isn’t taking place. In May of 2010, four percent of Americans owned an e-book reader. In May of 2011, 12 percent but as of December of the same year, the number had dropped to 10 percent.

As manufacturers began making the devices more tablet-like the number jumped to 19 percent in November of 2012. The latest numbers found that 24 percent of all Americans owned an e-reader.

Combining these two sets of data, 43 percent of household own either an e-book reader or tablet device. As expected, the wealthy are leading the way. More than half of households earning $75,000 or more own tablets and 38 percent own e-readers.

Some researchers believe that the smartphone market is peaking but that’s far from conclusive. It would be difficult to find anybody, however, who would argue that demand for tablets is slowing. In fact, it continues its explosive growth which is why Apple’s iPad event has received nearly the same amount of press as its iPhone event last month.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Tim Parker was long Apple.


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