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Study: More users own e-readers than tablets

A U.S. study reveals more e-reader owners than expected with price being a possible key factor

As popular as tablets are this year, a recent study from Pew Internet and American Life Project found that more American households actually own an e-reader compared to a tablet.

The study, as reported by CNN, says that as of May 2011, 12% of U.S. adults have owned an e-reader at some point while only 8% have owned a tablet. Apparently, the ownership between an e-reader and a tablet was more leveled last winter, but e-readers have seen a surge in units sold since then. This is in contrast to the wide selection of tablets now available as compared to late 2010.

While Amazon and Barnes & Noble do not disclose sales numbers of their Kindle or Nook e-readers, Citi analyst Mark Mahaney predicts Amazon has sold 17.5 million Kindle units so far in this year alone. This is compared to the total 25+ million iPads Apple has sold, which makes up the lion’s share of the tablet market.

The report points to price differentiation as one of the keys to e-reader popularity. Whereas users can purchase an Amazon Kindle for as low as $114, the trendier iPad 2 is still at least $499. Competing tablets are no different, as the Motorola Xoom, HP TouchPad and RIM PlayBook aim for the sub $500 price point as well. When considering that the Apple tablet is responsible for up to 89% of non-computer global web traffic, it is indeed an amazing feat that e-readers are just as popular than tablets, if not more so.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-06-30 (Update: 2012-05-26)