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Tablet ownership nearly doubled during the holidays

Between mid-December and the beginning of January, the number of tablet owners in the U.S. almost doubled from 10 percent to 19 percent, says Pew Internet.


The holidays were certainly prosperous for the tablet industry.

The number of U.S. tablet owners just about doubled from 10 percent to 19 percent between the middle of December and the start of January, according to a Pew Internet report out today.

Coming from a period of flat growth since the summer, tablets enjoyed a surge during the holiday season as lower-cost devices such as the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble's Nook tablet reached shoppers just in the nick of time.

But tablet vendors weren't the only ones on a holiday hot streak.

E-book readers saw a similar jump in sales, with the number of owners hopping from 10 percent to 19 percent from mid-December to January following several months of zero growth, reported Pew. The e-reader market was also helped by lower-cost devices, notably certain versions of the Kindle and Nook that sold for less than $100.

Combined, the number of U.S. consumers owning a tablet or e-reader grew from 18 percent to 29 percent in January.

Drilling down to the buyers themselves, tablets proved especially popular among households earning more than $75,000 and those with at least a college degree. A full 26 percent of those with incomes higher than $75,000 and 31 percent of those with higher levels of education now own a tablet. People under 50 were also a huge market for tablets.

E-readers showed a similar trend with 31 percent of higher-income households and 30 percent of college graduates owning one. These devices also proved more popular among women than men.

Pew's findings were based on three separate surveys. A pre-holiday survey between November 16 and December 21 grabbed responses from 2,986 adults. A post-holiday poll conducted from January 5 to 8 reached 1,000 people and another from January 12 to 15 interviewed 1,008 people.

Pew's survey didn't reveal which tablets or e-readers enjoyed the greatest surge in ownership over the holidays. But Amazon's Kindle Fire certainly lit up the market last month.

Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente estimates that as many as 5.5 million Kindle Fire units were sold during the December quarter.

Typically reluctant about releasing specific sales figures, Amazon revealed at the end of December that it sold more than 1 million Kindle devices each week throughout the month, a figure that included the Fire as well as the Kindle e-readers.

Barnes & Noble was also vague about its Nook sales, saying last month only that it sold millions of Nook devices, making it "the company's biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history."

Apple, which still dominates the tablet market by a hefty margin, is scheduled to release its December quarter figures tomorrow. A collection of analysts polled by Fortune believe the company sold "just under" 14 million iPads last quarter, close to double the sales from the year-ago quarter.