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Tablet sales poised to surpass eReader

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Competing large-screen mobile devices maintain equal market share

TORONTO, May 12, 2011 — While sales for tablets such as Apple's iPad — the much talked about device of techies and gadget gurus — have yet to surpass those of eReaders, they are poised to surpass eReader penetration in Canada.

According to Understanding Canadian Tablet/eReader Consumers, the most recent report from leading market research company, The NPD Group, only six per cent of Canadians currently own a tablet, the same percentage as those who own eReaders.

Launched as a more user-friendly format for viewing multimedia content such as books, magazines, videos and online apps, tablets were expected to take the market by storm; yet after a year on the market, only a small, affluent few have purchased the device.

"Our research shows that there's definitely an existing demand for tablets among Canadians and substantial growth potential; yet, many Canadians are still biding their time before they make the leap of purchasing the device," said Darrel Ryce, Director of Technology and Entertainment, The NPD Group. "However, those who have a tablet are very satisfied with the device, which is clearly evident in usage data that indicates half of tablet owners are using the device two to six hours a day."

Unlike its smartphone predecessor, the oft-gifted tablet seems to be less of a complementary device and more of a replacement device, particularly among intended purchasers. In fact, 65 per cent of those who are planning to buy a tablet say that other devices will no longer be required, including 37 per cent who say they would do away with their smartphones.

The study reveals that while eReader ownership numbers currently remain comparable to those of tablets, their growth potential is significantly more limited than that of tablets. eReader owners tend to belong to a significantly older demographic and are less preoccupied with Wi-Fi connectivity. They also tend to use the device much less than their tablet-owner counterparts with 27 per cent using the device less than one hour a day and 38 per cent using it a few hours a week.

"While the market for eReaders tends to be slimmer than that for tablets, those who intend to buy eReaders are very committed," said Ryce. "For example, even though a tablet could serve as an eReader, only 30 per cent of intenders would consider going with a tablet over an eReader and 56 per cent say no other device would be comparable to an eReader in their minds."

The study also reveals a future shift in how the device will be used. While only nine per cent of today's owners use the device to read newspapers, 30 per cent of intended purchasers will be perusing the pages of Canada's dailies on the device and 27 per cent will use it to read magazines.

"This is an important development for eReader manufacturers, because it reveals that consumers' reasons for buying the device is beginning to change; how quickly the manufacturers adapt to that change will determine how successful it will be in the future," said Ryce.

Understanding Canadian Tablet/eReader Consumers is a comprehensive study and analysis of trends in the newest devices to enter the mobile communications market, offering an in-depth perspective on the demographics, habits, usage and intentions of current and prospective tablet and e-reader users.

The study polled 9,577 Canadian adults across Canada in March 2011.


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