Number Of Tablet Users Growing Rapidly, And They Like Free Content

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According to a new report from IDC, the worldwide market for tablets grew by 45.1% in the third quarter of 2010, driven mainly by iPad demand. Now, the iPad faces a great deal of competition from various manufacturers (many showcased at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas). 

Vendors shipped 4.8 million units globally in the quarter, compared to 3.3 million units in the second quarter of 2010. The iPad accounted for nearly 90% of the media tablets shipped worldwide, according to the report. 

Global e-reader shipments grew to 2.7 million units during the quarter, a 40% increase from the prior quarter. The U.S. represented nearly three-quarters of the worldwide e-reader market. Unsurprisingly, Amazon led the e-reader market with over 1.1 million units shipped (41.5% market share worldwide). Amazon was followed by Pandigital, then Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Hanvon. 

E-Reader market according to IDC

"The media tablet market's rapid evolution will continue to accelerate in 4Q10 and beyond with new product and service introductions, channel expansion, price competition and experimentation with new use cases among consumers and enterprises," said Susan Kevorkian, research director with IDC's Mobile Connected Devices unit.

The firm expects the media tablet market to have finished 2010 at nearly 17 million units, and forecasts 44.6 million will ship this year, with the U.S. representing nearly 40% of the total. IDC forecasts worldwide shipments of 70.8 million units in 2012. 

On a somewhat related note, Knowledge Networks Research released the results of a survey of 205 iPad users, finding that early adopters are "not demonstrating unique behaviors." For example, six of the seven top reported activities are familiar ones, like web surfing and email.

76% of iPad owners use the iPad at least five days a week, while 55% of owners use the device daily, according to the findings. 

"Early-adopters are currently treating the iPad as an Internet appliance," says David Tice, Vice President and Group Account Director at Knowledge Networks. "Media companies and other content creators cannot assume that iPod behaviors – purchasing content for the device - will be immediately transferred to the iPad. In our early-adopter group, we saw, by nearly a 6-to-1 ratio, that iPad users prefer an ad-supported model over a pay model to gain access to content. At this point, a pay-for-content model would appeal only to a niche group of consumers."

The survey results also found that 70% of iPad owners/users have read an e-book on the device, 61% an electronic magazine or journal, and 51 have watched network TV programs. Only 13% of iPad owner/users claimed they would be willing to pay extra for an iPad-friendly version of a magazine or TV show they already pay for in its standard format (such as a cable or magazine subscription).

In the grand scheme of things, the surveys sample of just over 200 users is fairly small, but large enough to get a broad range of opinion. So, suffice it to say, that this is not the final word in the discussion, but it would appear to be a sample worth considering. 

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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