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Ownership of tablets, e-readers jumps during holiday season

In the U.S., 19% of adults owned tablets and electronic book readers in January, nearly double the percentage in the previous month, a survey finds. The growth comes as PC sales slow.

January 24, 2012|By David Sarno, Los Angeles Times

Remember when seeing an Apple Inc. iPad on a bus, an airplane or the subway was a startling new experience? Now you might be startled not to see one.

Over the holiday season, so many people bought tablets for each other (and, presumably, themselves), that U.S. tablet ownership nearly doubled among adults, to 19% in January from 10% a month earlier. The rate is growing quickly: In May 2010, shortly after the debut of the iPad, only about 3% of consumers over age 16 owned tablets, according to survey information from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey found a similar jump in e-reader ownership as prices dropped below $100 for electronic book readers from Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. Nineteen percent of U.S. adults now own an e-reader, up from 10% in November.

Tablet and e-reader adoption continues to grow quickly just as sales of traditional personal computers slow and even decline. In 2011, PC sales in the U.S. had their worst year since 2001, dropping nearly 5% compared with 2010, according to research firm IDC. Analysts and PC industry executives regularly cite the increasing popularity of tablets when talking about the slowing growth of the PC business.

According to the survey, tablet adoption is the highest among wealthier and more educated buyers. About 36% of those making more than $75,000 a year own a tablet computer, compared with about 16% of those making $30,000 to $50,000, although ownership rates in both groups appear to be growing quickly. The discrepancy is also substantial between college graduates, 31% of whom own tablets, and high school grads, at 15%.

david.sarno@latimes.com

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