Content Drives Tablet Use, Survey Says

The Online Publisher's Association has just released the results of a new survey into how people are using their tablets, and it's a good one. A total of 2,540 Americans were polled in March of this year.  About 760 reported that they were tablet owners, and here are the highlights of how they're using their tablets:

  • 31% of Americans own tablets
  • Nearly as many own an Android tablet as own an iPad (47% vs 52%)
  • Half spend more than 10 hours a week on the tablet
  • 60% use their tablet several times a day (or more)
  • 60% get content several times a day (or more)
The above details just scratch the surface of the survey results, which run to 47 pages. It's well worth a read, but there were a couple points that caught my eye.

This survey confirmed something I'd long suspected. While mobile use is up, it turns out that the users aren't mobile. A full two thirds of the time spent on tablets is now at home, not while the user is actually in motion.

I'm not at all surprised by this because I've been tracking how I use my tablets. For example, right now I have a couple tablets sitting next to me. They're set to ping whenever I get an email or tweet. I also use them when I want to sit back to read and contemplate someone's blog post (rather than reading it on my laptop, where I lean forward).

The other point which caught my eye was both a surprise and an explanation for the decline in sales of E-ink screens.

When considered as a reading device, the tablet won out over everything from PCs and smartphones to magazines. That's not much of a surprise, assuming that the content is well formatted. The bombshell was that respondents preferred tablets over dedicated ereaders like the Kindle:

It's going to suck to be E-ink this year; the ereader market was quite lucrative. Now it looks like it might be disappearing.

image by lejoe

About Nate Hoffelder (11394 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on Content Drives Tablet Use, Survey Says

  1. Very interesting, especially the 47% Android figure.

    Although I’d be careful on the device preference for reading figures. I think that is a rockchip/ e-paper/scissors fight. My personal experience is that the tablet form factor is the best all around device for reading, but it only in the right context. If there’s a lot of glare or direct sunlight the tablet looses. If the reading is interactive like a blog or wiki a desktop or laptop beats the tablet. If I’m reading text or manga 7″-8″ screens win. if I’m reading American comics or PDFs 10″ is preferred. If I’m going for an extended walk on a sunny day my nook simple touch blows everything away.

    It’s not “there can be only one!”, It’s more along the lines of form factors being Jungian archetypes. My Palm Pilots may be dead, but they live on in my cell. My present preferred metaphor is to Pens. We are presently transitioning from fountain pens to the ubiquitous ballpoint, but we will need sharpies, gelpens, crayons, copics, and pencils depending on the context of work.

    I’d be interested in the impact of having multiple tablets as well. In my mind a tablet is like a single window. Multiple tablets allow you to have multiple windows open. For example on my treadmill desk, my 10″ is devoted to reading, a 7″ controls the MP3s and serves as a timer/clock and can display speed and calories (hacked an interface with an arduino), while my cell fields captchas and messaging.

  2. I don’t agree with your interpretation of some of these numbers. The fact that the respondents preferred tablets for reading over dedicated readers is not a bombshell but to be expected, because all respondents were… tablet users. If they asked the same question to users of dedicated readers the response would probably have been quite different. The fact that two thirds of time spent on tablets is at home may contribute to the respondents’ preference for tablets: when you use your tablet only while you’re at home battery life and reading in the sun are hardly an issue.

    The most likely reason for the decline in sales of E Ink screens in the US is that the market there is pretty saturated by now and there are no new revolutionary developments in screen technology that prompt users to replace their device by a new one.

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