A survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, conducted in November 2012 and released in late December 2012, reports that 33 percent of Americans over the age of 16 now own a tablet or e-reader. This represents a 15 point jump from the December 2011 survey. While the overall statistics are interesting, it is the breakdown between tablet and e-reader ownership increases that are most important.
The December 2011 survey was the first in the lifetime of the survey (just under three years) that tablet ownership matched e-reader ownership. Ten percent of respondents owned an e-reader and ten percent owned a tablet. With the most recent survey, while both categories have seen significant growth, tablet ownership has shot up at a spectacular pace.
From the December 2011 to November 2012 tablet ownership grew 150 percent from 10 to 25 percent of respondents. This was followed by a nine point increase in e-reader ownership.
Interestingly, the survey showed a sharp drop-off in the number of owners of only e-readers. Only eight percent of respondents reported owning a e-reader and not owning a tablet, revealing a strong trend toward devices that offer similar functionality to e-readers along with native app stores and browser access.
For publishers, the swing toward full-function tablet ownership means it is time to embrace interactive content. Users are looking for an interactive and immersive experience as they consume periodicals and even books on mobile devices and plain text on a greyscale screen is not cutting it for many users.
And while these numbers do not reveal user habits and only show how many Americans own tablet and/or e-reader devices, the number of devices “in the wild,” is an important statistic for publishers and brands and drives the creation of content.
Time and time again, publishers have created either weak or non-existent tablet specific presences because, many say, there were not enough users to compensate for the cost of development for tablet specific devices.
But with the significant increases in device ownership, it is time for all publishers to embrace tablet publishing, especially as ownership is expected to continue to grow at a significant pace into the near future.