WIth an ownership surge of mid-size portable devices such as the Kindle, Nook, iPad and others, we can see the unique patterns that are developing in this new market area.
As the number of owners of mid-size portable devices grow, unique demographics are emerging of who is purchasing or using e-readers or tablets. The most recent survey of US adults (18 and over) from Pew Research showed a large jump in e-reader ownership from six percent in November 2010 to twelve percent in May 2011. Tablet adoption as been slower - from five percent to eight percent over the same time period, but prior to last November, the tablet owner numbers had been climbing more quickly.
These nascent markets are far behind devices that have been around for longer - 83 percent of respondents own a cell phone, 57 percent own a desktop, 56 percent a laptop. E-readers and tablets are also overlap devices - three percent of respondents own both, a significant figure when considering that only fourteen percent own at least one of them. As an aside, this is the first time that laptop computers are so closely popular as desktops. They are already much more popular among adults under thirty, and the trend should continue to influence older adults.
As mentioned previously, with more owners we can now see emerging profiles of device owners. "Hispanic adults, adults younger than age 65, college graduates and those living in households with incomes of at least $75,000 are most likely to own e-book readers. Parents are also more likely than non-parents to own these devices." These characteristics have emerged over the last six months as the market has matured slightly, with adults aged 18-49 being the fastest growing age group.
While e-readers are most popular with higher income and education levels, tablet owners have mostly similar demographic patterns. However, some differences exist - "parents are no more likely than non-parents to own these devices," and "men are now slightly more likely than women to own this type of device."
More money and education provide somewhat intuitive explanations for higher adoption rates of mid-size devices. As for the high level of Hispanic adoption - fifteen percent of which own an e-reader or a tablet, this may be explained by online behavior trends for this demographic. Social media usage is very high, especially sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.