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When Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, many thought it would make dedicated ebook readers obsolete. But six years later, it turns out that didn’t happen. In fact, both categories are still growing.
In its latest forecast on ereader and tablet usage, eMarketer predicts the number of ereader users will grow this year by 3.5%, to 86.3 million people. While eMarketer has lowered the growth rate for ereaders since its last forecast, there is still room for growth in US usage.
Ereader usage continues to grow, as some consumers prefer them to tablets and phones for reading books. Ereaders often have a longer battery life, glare-free screens that make them easier to read, and lower price points.
“There is a subset of consumers, particularly those 65 and older, who are looking for an affordable portable device that provides an enjoyable reading experience,” said eMarketer senior analyst Cathy Boyle. “Ereaders’ lower price point and single-focus functionality are attractive to those consumers.”
The tablet market is still far larger, and will grow 4.7% this year to 166.7 million users. In fact, this year, for the first time, more than half of the US population (51.4%) will use a tablet.
As the tablet category has grown, so too has the competition. iPads, the product that jumpstarted the category, continues to see its share of tablet users decrease. This year, 47.8% of US tablet users will use an iPad, a drop from 49.2% last year.
Overall tablet usage skews younger, while ereader usage trends older. This year, the heaviest users of tablets will be Generation X internet users (67.0% of whom will use a tablet), and they will continue to be the most-penetrated group through 2019.
Meanwhile, the age of users is shifting for ereaders. This year, baby boomers will be the most likely ereader users, with 44.0% of internet users in that generation using the devices. But the number of baby boomers using ereaders is shrinking, and next year, a higher proportion of Gen X internet users will use one.
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