The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey evaluating the growth and adoption rates of both eReaders and tablets, and discovered that while both sets of devices are meeting with success, eReaders have managed to establish a far greater presence in the United States.
Pew conducted this survey by contacting adults age 18 and over via landline and cell phone and asking them about which devices they owned. 2,277 individuals responded. The data was collected over the period from April 26 to May 22, 2011.
The results: people are buying eReaders. Pew discovered a huge increase in eReader adoption from an earlier study they conducted in November, 2010. Considering that the adoption rate was 6% back in November, the number of eReader owners has essentially doubled, with 12% of American adults now owning these devices.
Tablets were notably slower in their growth, with just a slight increase from 5% in November to 8% in the most recent study. This leaves tablets considerably behind eReaders, and eReaders are considerably behind many other consumer technologies, including cell phones (83% adoption), desktops (57%), laptops (56%), and MP3 players (44%).
Considering the visibility of tablets (in the news, in advertising), it would seem strange that Amazon and Barnes & Noble have managed to usurp the media consumption crown. But, at least according to Pew, that is the case.
One question that remains of the research is what exactly qualifies as a tablet and what qualifies as an eReader. The line has become blurred, primarily thanks to the Barnes & Noble NOOK Color, marketed as “the reader’s tablet.” The NOOK Color ultimately falls into some sort of gray area, and has almost singlehandedly awoken the question in the industry.
Wording within the study makes it seem like the NOOK Color would fall to the eReader side of things. Pew’s Associate Director for Research writes in the introduction to the research: “eReaders, such as a Kindle or Nook…” This is by no means definitive, but would imply that the NOOK Color is on the eReader side of things for Pew’s purposes. If the NOOK Color were counted amongst tablets, it would make the success of eReaders displayed by the survey doubly impressive, as unconfirmed reports from the supply chain suggest that the “reader’s tablet” approached 3 million units sold in April, approximately four and a half months after its launch.