Skip to main content

Nielsen study reveals user tablet and e-reader habits


A new study by the Nielsen Company sheds light on how people use their tablets, e-readers and smart phones. And, as you might imagine, the findings are not particularly surprising, even if it is interesting to see if other people use the device the same way as yourself.

According to the study,which involved surveying 12,000 device owners, 68 percent of smartphone owners used their device while watching television. The same goes for 70 percent of tablet users. Of those with e-readers, however, only 35 percent admit to using their device while the TV was on. This, of course, makes perfect sense. It is far more difficult and substantially less enjoyable to read while the TV is on, compared to checking Twitter or browsing the Web.

Related Videos

Among users who use their device while in bed, the stats were much closer, wih 61 percent of e-reader owners and 57 of tablet owners saying they use their gadget before lights out. Only 51 percent of smartphone users said the same.

Not only do tablet and e-reader users play with their devices while in bed or watching TV, but they spend a significant portion of that time with electronics in their hands. Of e-reader owners, 37 percent of the time they use their device is done so while in bed, but a mere 15 percent of usage is done while in front of the tube. Tablet owners spend a third of their usage hours while also watching television, and 21 percent while in bed.

This information certainly provides some useful insight to electronics makers, who are looking to discover how their devices are being used in the real world. It seems as though e-readers are being used, essentially, the same as books or magazines. And tablets are obviously being used a large portion of the time for casual purposes, rather than actual work. Which means that, while the “post-PC era” has certainly arrive, the PC will still have its place — at the office.

Editors' Recommendations

Lighter than Air? Here’s Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet next to the latest iPad

Check out our review of the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet.
We had a few minutes to check out the new Xperia Z2 Tablet at Sony's event today, and were impressed by how thin and fast it is. And surprisingly, it still looked great when we put it side by side with an iPad Air, which is one of the best-looking tablets around. Measuring in at a scant 6.4mm thick and 426grams, the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a full millimeter thinner than the iPad Air and about 44 grams lighter, too. In the shots above, you can see that the Z is a lot longer than the iPad, but matches or exceeds it in most other physical categories. It appears to be a refined version of the Tablet Z, complete with the processing power of an extremely powerful Android phone. If only Sony would tell us the price.

Read more
Why you should try out Oyster Books, the Netflix for novels
Oyster Books

If you're like Andrew and like to fill your shelves with many leather-bound books to impress your friends, digital books are probably a tough sell. But for fervent readers who just consume as much text as possible, Oyster could be a viable option for the price of less than a book a month. The team behind Oyster knows the difficulty of putting down the hard copy in exchange for your iOS device, and it isn't out to kill off the bookstore, just provide the best reading experience tablet and phone users have ever had. In that regard, the app hits its mark.
"We love print books and think there will always be a market for hard copies," Oyster co-founder Willem Van Lancker told us. "Oyster is a new platform that encourages discovery and allows access to books on a mobile device anytime, anywhere. It's a unique offering and we've taken extra steps to build our product as the best all-in-one reading experience around."
The actual reading experience through most ebook reader apps is pretty identical, save for a few bells and whistles. You've got text on the screen with some ability to tweak the size and font. Oyster isn't looking to reinvent what Amazon's Kindle already made popular because there's not a whole lot of places to go with it, but it has managed to take some of the strain out of reading from the screen. The ability to apply Instagram-esque filters over the page and modify the appearance of text, including an always-welcome night mode, makes it easy to find a display style that is easy on the eyes and makes for a pleasant reading experience, even over an extended period.
"It's a unique offering and we've taken extra steps to build our product as the best all-in-one reading experience around ... Our goal is to bring a clean, intuitive and sophisticated experience to users and we've heard incredible praise from our users already," explained Van Lancker.
That praise is well deserved. The app features an unobtrusive look and feel. We particularly like the counter on the bottom of the screen that shows how many pages and minutes are left in the current chapter. This gave us a better feel for where we were in a book, something often lost in digital copies, and removes the daunting feeling of starting a book at page one and seeing the only indication of progress saying there are hundreds of pages left to go. If you're ADD like us, small rewards count. 
Reading is only half of what Oyster does. You'll spend an equal amount of time searching for things to read thanks to the app's 100,000+ book to selection. It's a huge library by numbers alone, but not necessarily all that comprehensive given the amount of books published every year from publishers big to small. Amazon's Kindle store, for example, has millions of books. Much like Netflix with movies and TV, Oyster will never have all the books available to subscribers, but it has a solid foundation and plenty more offerings on the way.
"Being New York based, we've had the opportunity to grow really strong relationships and onboard large, mid-size and smaller publishing houses," said Van Lancker. "On Oyster, a title is valued by it's quality and relevance to the reader and we've built a system, both editorial and algorithmic, that gives any size publishers a great way to get their books in front of more readers."
Though there is currently no self-published presence on Oyster - and if you've browsed the Amazon marketplace for authors that have skipped the publishing (and in some cases, the editing) process, you may have an idea why - but Van Lancker did explain his company has "a few aggregators on board including Smashwords."
So while the pickings may feel a little slim to start, you'll find there is plenty of quality content on Oyster and it has a system for bringing it to you. This is really the make or break feature for Oyster at the moment. If it's smart, it can disguise its lack of content by directing you to the stuff they'll really enjoy. There's two ways this is done: Through the app's algorithms that pick up on your reading activity and by displaying what your friends enjoy.
Van Lancker claims, "By providing a single, common library at the core of Oyster, we're able to create a focused community for our users to share and experience an incredible selection of books together. As the service grows and as reader's habits and preferences are learned, the recommendations will become more personalized."
Given the Netflix comparisons Oyster draws and the widely varied sub-genres of literature, we expected some extremely specific categories to appear from the suggestions. This wasn't always the case, and sometimes it seemed as the the title held a little more weight than it should when generating recommendations, but for the most part the app was able to point us toward books that fit well into a niche we showed interest in.
As far as reading on iPhone and iPad go, the experience doesn't get much better than Oyster. A monthly fee of $10, less than the price of one book in most cases, will provide a great value to those that find themselves flipping digital pages often. The service and its suggestion engine is already sharp, and it appears this will only get better as it grows. How Oyster expands will be the determining factor in its longevity. Some stronger social features - including direct recommendations from friends or shared reading lists - would be welcome and expansion into other platforms will give Oyster even more value. Being able to switch from your iPhone to an Android tablet and even pull up pages on your desktop without losing your spot would make the monthly price tag a no brainer.
Van Lancker stated Oyster has no "specific timing to share for when we'll be available on other platforms," but promised that he and his team are "dedicated to providing the best user experience possible on each device we roll-out." Given what we see in the iOS app, we have no reason to doubt him.
You can download Oyster for free from the iTunes App Store here. The service costs $10 a month, but you can sign up for a free one month trial.

Read more
Is there any reason to own paper books beside showing off? Not really
real books vs ebooks ebook empty bookshelf

Like some kind of sadomasochistic twit, I’ve moved houses three times in the past three years. Each of these moves reintroduced me to the symptom of insanity commonly known as a large book collection. The bulk of my household’s possessions come in paperback and hardcover, you see – dozens of boxes and hundreds of pounds worth of pulp that take up more space in a moving truck than all of my furniture combined. 
Superior technology has officially rendered all my reasons for sticking with paper and glue irrelevant.

My book collection is a burden – especially to my brother, Aaron, who has helped my fiancée and me move every time. Which is why, I assume, he recently asked, “So, have you thought about buying an ebook reader?” He did, and thinks it’s amazing – his physical library quickly evaporating into a digital one that he takes with him wherever he goes. “Plus,” he said, “I’m sick of carrying your heavy crap.”
Aaron, of course, has a point – one that millions of consumers realized long ago. Not only do ebooks not weigh anything or take up any space, they are also searchable, customizable, and can include a bevy of Internet-connected features. You can “borrow” ebooks from the library without worrying about return dates. And thanks to Amazon’s e-lending library, companies like Oyster – the “Netflix of ebooks” – and a slew of excellent ebook readers, perusing an endless array of titles has never been easier, cheaper, or more convenient. 
So why, after all these years of having access to a superior product, haven’t I jumped on the digital book bandwagon?
The answer: I am an egotistical jerk. 
My book collection, I realized this weekend, is one of the few things in my home that makes me seem smart. Visitors step into my living room to see shelves and shelves of tomes – Hemingway, McCarthy, Kafka, Tolstoy, Franzen, Sedaris, Bukowski, Fitzgerald – each creased spine revealing more about my interests and intellect. At least, that’s what my subconscious likes to believe. Just as vacation photographs show off where we’ve been, books show where our minds have traveled. They have, in other words, become little more than an elaborate way to brag.
The same could be said for all types of media. Movie lovers no longer need collections of DVDs. CDs have long been replaced by invisible MP3s – which is one of the reasons, I assume, that vinyl has enjoyed such a resurgence in the past decade: People want you to know what good taste they have in art. Soon, as video game disks become increasingly obsolete, gamers will suffer the same fate – forced to display their outdated titles as a reminder to anyone who visits that they are a “real” gamer in the same way I am a “real” reader.
The “’real books’ vs. ebooks’” debate has been around for years, of course. And, unlike other types of media, there are good reasons to prefer the old medium. Paper books don’t need electricity. You can resell them or give them away without sparking a battle over copyright infringement. They can suffer a coffee spill without completely crapping out. It is impossible to get distracted by pop-up emails and other apps. Paper books can’t disappear from your library due to company policy, technical malfunction, or technology obsolescence. And no matter how handy an ebook is, its intangible nature strips its ability to evoke the sentimental memories a dingy, dog-eared paperback can elicit.
No matter how handy an ebook is, its intangible nature strips its ability to evoke the sentimental memories a dingy, dog-eared paperback can elicit.

Read more