Tablet fever cools as e-readers heat up
Who says Americans don't read?
The American passion for tablets is declining just as e-reader growth is accelerating.
Between January and May of this year, tablet ownership in the US grew from 7 to 8 per cent of the population, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Previously Pew reports, tablet sales had been climbing relatively quickly.
Tablet sales are slowing, even as more tablet choices appear (source: Pew Internet & American Life Project)
Neither the HP TouchPad nor the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 appeared during the Pew-report period, but we doubt if the slowing in tablet sales was a result of buyers putting off purchases until those worthies hit the market – though, to be fair, we can't be sure. Call it a hunch.
E-reader growth, by contrast, is accelerating. In November of last year, 6 per cent of Americans owned e-readers. As of May, that number had doubled to 12 per cent – the first time that the Pew researchers had tracked it in double digits.
The survey – which spoke with 2,277 respondents in both English and Spanish, and over both landlines and cell phones – picked up a number of other tidbits of interest, as well.
For example, 9 per cent of respondents owned an e-reader but not a tablet, 5 per cent owned a tablet but not an e-reader, and 3 per cent owned both – meaning that as of Tuesday morning, 9,350,938 Americans have been driven to spend a decent chunk of their disposable income on the latest digital shiny-shiny.
But despite their increasing popularity and media buzz, both tablet and e-reader ownership lags far behind other gadgets. Pew reports, for example, that 83 per cent of Americans own cell phones, and 57 and 56 per cent own desktops and laptops, respectively.
Even DVRs are owned by six and a half times as many Americans as are tablets. It'd be interesting to chart the relative media coverage of those two digital devices. One might safely predict – even without a formal study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project – that the results wouldn't mirror their percentage of ownership. ®
E-Reader prices have continued to drop. What was a $250-300 device 2-3 years ago is now rapidly approaching the $100 price point. Once they break that 3 digit price tag, I think you'll see E-Readers REALLY start to take off. What's the least expensive tablet available from a brand you've heard of? $350-400? That's still in the "do I get this or do I eat for the next two months" category for a lot of people. $99 is a lot smaller piece of the budget for most people.
Of course, I'd love to see a lot more $0.99-2.99 ebooks be available for these platforms. There's no reason an existing book that has been out for a few years should require it to be sold for $5-10 for an Ebook. The publishing costs are already covered by the paper version, just ship an inexpensive ebook version and people will snap it up. This goes double for technical books that by the time they're more than 2-3 years old are next to worthless. Give me Pratchett's back catalog in Ebook form for $2-3 each, and I'll grab every one of them. If I have to spend the same amount as buying a paperback, I'll just get the paperback that I can hand off to a friend or sell on Ebay. Digital costs the producers significantly less, but they are still under the impression that it's worth as much or more than the dead tree version.
Tablets aren't going to take over the world after all. Who saw that coming?
What would the figure for netbooks be over the same period?
Used a Kindle, the original huge one, also a DX version, I've also used an Ectaco Jetbook (LCD screen), a Sony PRS350, an Archos 7HT with aldiko and A B&N nook color, all for significantly more than 10 minutes. In fact on the nook color I've racked up 9 novels in the last 3 weeks, only problem I've had with it is the easy distraction of angry birds. So not FAIL.
2 x Sony Readers, 1x Asus Transformer in our house
And they are all awesome, and I wouldn't change any of them. They are also much better than their more common counterparts.