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Pew study shows Android tablets on the rise as tablet reading becomes the norm

by Doug Drinkwater

October 1 2012

A detailed new report from Pew Research highlights that an increasing desire for smartphones and tablets is changing news reading habits, and surprisingly indicates that Android tablets are starting to reel in the iPad.

The study, conducted between June 29 and August 8 and taking in the views of 9,513 U.S. adults (including 4,638 mobile device owners) looked at how the proliferation of smartphones and tablets are changing reading habits.

Pew found that nearly a quarter of U.S. adults (22%) now own a tablet, more than double that of last year, with another quarter (23%) reportedly planning to get one in the next six months. By comparison, smartphone ownership rose to 44% from 35% in May 2012.

There was little difference in mobile reading habits, with 64% of tablet owners getting news on their device on a weekly basis, compared to 62% of smartphone users.

Where the differences lie however is that tablet readers are more likely to read in-depth articles (73% 'sometimes', 19% 'daily') compared to smartphone users (61% and 11%, respectively), although both users are tending to read at home, at one point in the day and using a mobile browser.

Pew added that there is still some resistance to paying for content.

All of this may be little surprise, but Pew did also note an intriguing rise in popularity for Android tablets, and in particular Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The firm found that a wave of low-price Android tablets have pushed the iPad's market share down from 81% to 52% in a year, with Android's share now standing at 48%. Just under half of these (21%) are Kindle Fire tablets, although Pew did stress that iPad owners use their device more often, especially when it comes to reading news.

Here’s a round-up of other findings from the study, which also includes an infographic:

  • Mobile device owners read more: As many as 43% of tablet owners say that they now consume more news thanks to their device, while 31% say that they have discovered new sources of information from their tablet.
  • News is truly multi-platform: 54% of tablet news readers also get news on a smartphone, 77% get news on a desktop/laptop, and 50% get news in print. One in four people get news across all four platforms.
  • Digital subscribers have no plans to abandon print: Pew reveals that 31% of mobile news users have print-only subscriptions, and says that three quarters of these have no plans to give them up.
  • Smartphone and tablet owners are more likely to click on mobile ads: Half of all mobile news users (49% tablet; 50% smartphone) sometimes or often notice ads when getting news on their device. 15% of these folk click on ads, and around 7% buying something. Nonetheless, these figures are reportedly higher than digital ads featuring on other devices.

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