E-Readers More Popular Than Tablets: Because They're Cheaper

The media wants you to believe that consumers are lusting over tablets, but a new study from Pew Internet & American Life Project disagrees. According to the study, the hot gadget right now is the e-reader, not the tablet.

Pew's study shows that the share of adults in the United States who own an e-reader such as Barnes & Noble's Nook or Amazon's Kindle doubled to 12 percent in May 2011--up from six percent in November 2010. Tablets have not seen the same level of growth--in the same period, tablet owners increased by only three percent.

Now doubt the drastic price cuts for e-readers had something to do with the growth. You can now get a reader such as Amazon's ad-supported Kindle for as little as $114--this time last year, prices were nearly twice that.

Tablets, on the other hand, remain rather pricey, and there have been no major price cuts over the same period.

It's also worth noting that tablet growth was fairly stagnant between January and May, only rising one percentage point (from seven percent in January to eight percent in May). This may have been because people were waiting for the iPad 2, holding off purchases accordingly.

What will be interesting to watch over the next few months is whether this trend continues, and whether the release of the iPad 2 results in a jump in tablet ownership. It probably isn't foolish to assume many who did buy the iPad 2 were new to tablets overall, which would result in a jump in ownership.

Either way, tablet and e-reader ownership are way behind other popular electronics. According to Pew's study, some 83 percent of respondents owned a cell phone, 52 percent owned a DVR player, and 44 percent owned an MP3 player. Pew did not break down responses by brand.

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