One-third of all Americans now own a tablet, and one-fourth own ebook readers

We’ve known tablets are growing in popularity, but we didn’t know just how many of you already own them. According to an ongoing Pew study, 35 percent of Americans 16-and-older now own a tablet computer, and 24 percent of them own an ebook reader, like a Kindle. These numbers are up substantially from a year ago, when only 25 percent owned a tablet and 19 percent owned an e-reader.

These figures put tablets about at the level where smartphones were a year or so ago. Currently 55 percent of Americans own a smartphone and 91 percent own a cell phone. At this rate, about half of people will own a tablet by this time next year, if not more.

So who are buying all these tablets? Pew has some answers

  • Women edge out men: They’re slightly more popular with women (36 percent), while only 34 percent of men do.
  • Asian-Americans love tablets: Splitting it up by race/ethnicity, Asian-Americans are the most engaged on tablets, with 50 percent penetration, followed by Hispanics at 37 percent, whites at 35 percent, and blacks at 29 percent.
  • High-school teenagers love tablets: 46 percent teens aged 16-17 have tablets. The next most-popular group are those ages 30-49 with 44 percent, followed by 18-29 at 37 percent. The numbers trail down to 18 percent of those 65 and higher.
  • More education = More tablets: College-educated people bought the most tablets at 49 percent, and the numbers trailed down with education level ending at 21 percent for those without a high school diploma. This may correlate to incomes (see next).
  • More income = More tablets: Those who make $150,000 or more own tablets in droves, with a 65-percent purchase rate. 57 percent of $100K+ earners own them, and it trails down after that to a low 22 percent for those making less than $30,000 a year. Tablets are indeed a luxury item right now.
  • Suburbanites edge out city dwellers: 37 percent of those living in the suburbs own a tablet compared to 36 percent of those living in a city. Only 27 percent of rural country folk have a slate in the house.

If you look at ebook reader numbers, they break down similarly, but there are some differences. Women seem to read more (27 to 22 percent); whites own the most of them at 26 percent, followed by Asian Americans at 22 percent; people ages 30-49 buy them most frequently (30 percent), with about 24 percent of everyone younger owning one. College-educated, $150,000+ earners still buy in the largest percentages, as do suburbanites.

What’s most interesting is who owns smartphones. The most-likely buyer out of anyone would be an Asian American male, aged 18-29 with a college degree, making $150,000+, and living in the city.

Pew’s numbers come from telephone interviews with 6,224 people ages 16+, living in the United States, and are conducted on landline phones.

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