A Demography of the iPad

Only 3% of Americans currently own tablets–but fully 20% plan to soon, according to a new survey.

group with iPads


One out of every five Americans plans to own a tablet by 2014, according to a survey conducted in November by Harris Interactive, a market research firm, and released today. The online survey, conducted in mid-November on about 2,300 adults, asked questions about business, social networking, and other uses of the device of both sexes and several age cohorts, and its findings amount to a demographic snapshot of tablet use in this country.

Nine million Americans currently own tablets–only about 3% of the current U.S. population. But the iPad and its cousins seems to have made inroads into the American psyche, at least, since fully 17% more intend to buy one in the next three years, according to the survey.

The results also prove out what some have noticed as a trend: the tablet as business tool. Of those who own or plan to own tablets, 40% of them intend to use it for business. The iPad is becoming, in effect, a jumbo Blackberry.

There’s apparently a slight gender divide among tablets, according to the data: More men than women say they’ll own a tablet inside of three years (26% vs. 18%). But of the women who do intend to get a tablet, more, proportionally, plan on using it for social networking than men (60% vs. 43%). And young folks are more likely than old folks to plan to get a tablet: Some 26% of people in the 18-34 cohort announced their tablet dreams, whereas just 15% of those over 55 said the same.

The poll also looked at how tablet usage breaks down (or would break down, among those who plan to buy). Here’s why Harris found:


At first I was surprised that only three-quarters planned to use it mainly for email and the Internet–which both seem so central to what a tablet is. But then Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski, the PR person who sent me the survey, told me that his immigrant parents use their tablet “virtually untouched as a digital picture frame (no joke).”

The survey conducted by Harris Interactive was sponsored by Fuze Box, which calls itself “a leading platform provider of real time visual collaboration applications for millions of end users across various businesses.” Good luck parsing that! Looking at Fuze Box’s site, it appears that they enable video conferences, among other things.

[Image: Flickr user thomcochrane]


About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.