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Ownership of tablets, e-readers almost doubles in one month

Doug Gross, CNN
Barnes & Noble's Nook tablet was one of the devices that led to massive gains in tablet and e-reader ownership.
Barnes & Noble's Nook tablet was one of the devices that led to massive gains in tablet and e-reader ownership.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Report: Tablet, e-reader ownership made huge leap over the holidays
  • Pew Internet project says 19% of U.S. adults now own one of the devices
  • That's up from about 10% just one month earlier
  • The rollout of Amazon's Kindle Fire and drop in e-reader prices were cited

(CNN) -- A new report from one of the Web's leading researchers spells out what news reports have suggested: that tablet computers and e-readers made a huge leap in popularity this holiday season.

The number of U.S. adults who owned tablets such as Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire, or e-readers, like the Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook, increased from 10% in mid-December to 19% in early January, according to the report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

It's a surprisingly big number -- nearly doubling in a matter of weeks the popularity of gadgets that have existed for at least a couple of years. The Kindle came out in 2007, the Nook in 2009, and the iPad in January 2010.

"These findings are striking because they come after a period from mid-2011 into the autumn in which there was not much change in the ownership of tablets and e-book readers," the report notes. "However, as the holiday gift-giving season approached the marketplace for both devices dramatically shifted."

Pew credits, in part, the introduction of the Fire and Nook -- both of which are simpler, and significantly cheaper, than the market-leading iPad -- and the fact that prices on some readers have now dropped as low as $99.

Women were the biggest new adopters of e-readers, jumping from just 6% who owned them in November to 21% in January, according to Pew. Men went from 6 to 16%.

The leap in tablet ownership was more even, with women going from 4 to 19% and men increasing from 6 to 19%. Perhaps not surprisingly, households making more money and with higher education levels were the most likely to own a tablet or e-reader by the end of the holidays.

Pew is studying ownership of both types of devices "to understand how people consume media (text, video, and audio) on the devices, how people use them to access the internet, and how mobile connectivity has affected users."

The report, released Monday, did not break down which type of device respondents owned.

The iPad still remains the most popular tablet by a long shot, although analysts say the emergence of the Fire, which runs a modified version of Google's Android operating system, makes it the first serious challenger to Apple's dominance of the tablet market.

Early this month, investment bank Morgan Keegan reduced its estimate of iPad shipments in December from 16 million to 13 million, while estimating that the Kindle Fire sold between 4 million and 5 million units.

Amazon tends not to release details about e-reader sales but announced that 2011 was the best holiday season ever for the Kindle line, saying it had sold more than 1 million of them every week during December.

Barnes & Noble also announced that the Nook line had broken holiday records, with sales up more than 70% from 2010.

Pew conducted a survey of nearly 3,000 people in November and early December, then two more, of another 2,000 adults, in early January. The first had a margin of error of plus or minus 2% and the second two a margin of 2.4%.

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