When the iPad rolled out in the spring of 2010, a lot of us assumed that it would immediately eclipse the humble e-Reader (aka Kindle), but so far, that hasn’t been the case. As of May, 12% of us own e-Readers, whereas only 8% own tablets, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Pew found that 9% own an e-Reader but not a tablet, and 5% own a tablet but not an e-Reader. Three percent own both.
In hindsight, it shouldn’t be totally surprising. The cost of an e-Reader is less than one-third that of a tablet, and for reading text-oriented books or magazines, it’s better. The battery lasts longer, it weighs less, and you can read it by the pool, because most e-Readers have no-glare screens and use E-Ink displays. The E-Ink displays are monochrome and do a poor job with graphics, so they’re not suitable for photo-heavy documents like fashion magazines or biology textbooks. But for novels and history books, I like it better. (Disclosure: I own a Kindle II and do not own a tablet.)
Tablets are different animals entirely — built for browsing the Internet and handling heavy graphics, including video and even video-conferencing.
Laptops overtake desktops
Pew’s spring survey was the first in which laptops passed desktops in popularity, with 61% owning laptops compared to 53%.