There’s some stunning new data on tablet computer and e-reader adoption in the U.S. from our friends at the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
According to the center’s director, Lee Rainie, “the share of adults in the United States who own tablet computers nearly doubled from 10% to 19% between mid-December and early January”. E-reader growth was similarly dramatic.
Rainie pointed out that this sharp growth came after a period where there was “not much change” in the growth of tablet computer ownership. “As the holiday gift-giving season approached,” Rainie added, “the marketplace for both devices dramatically shifted. In the tablet world, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook Table were introduced at considerably cheaper prices than other tablets. In the e-book reader world, some versions of the Kindle and Nook and other readers fell below $100.”
This is a shocking level of growth for any new technology.
Remember, when the iPad first came out, the doubters were numerous and vociferous. There were many, and there are many still, who feel tablets don’t serve a useful purpose that can’t be served by either a smartphone or a laptop. To these doubters, a tablet is something of a novelty, with dubious staying power.
This new data leaves no doubt: Game Over.
People want tablets, and they want them very badly. And as Rainie pointed out, the introduction of cheaper iPad alternatives – the Nook and the Kindle Fire – is making tablet computing much more accessible. The tablet is here to stay in a big way.
So what should we make of this phenomenon in the context of market research?
Should we drag our feet, like so many of us did when it came to the adoption of online research a mere decade ago?
The advent of the tablet is a major opportunity for many people in many industries.
For researchers, the appealing features of tablets are as obvious as they are many:
- Bigger screens = better user experience
- Multi-touch technology = ease of use
- Portability = data collection flexibility
- Advanced computing power = sophisticated presentation of stimuli and interaction with respondents
Services like Survey Analytics’ SurveyPocket have already begun to break methodological ground with innovative tablet-based research applications. I look forward to seeing the many creative ways researchers think to take advantage of the charms of the tablet computer in 2012 and beyond.
Let the tablet surveys begin.