Monday, June 18, 2012

OPA study highlights explosive growth of tablets, claims Android OS levels are equal to the iPad

A study commissioned by the Online Publishers Association (OPA), and conducted in partnership with Frank N. Magid Associates, says tablet ownership in the U.S. has reached 31 percent. The study also makes the claim that Android tablets now enjoy an equal market share with Apple's iOS.
The new study, A Portrait of Today’s Tablet User – Wave II (PDF), surveyed 2,540 people in March of this year to find whether they owned, and how they used, their new tablets. The survey found that tablets only had a 12 percent penetration in the U.S. last year, that level has increased to 31 percent. The OPA study predicts that tablet penetration will reach 47 percent by the end of next year.

The OPA is highlighting its findings concerning paid content, the survey finding that owners are more than willing to pay for apps and subscriptions.

“The growing base of tablet users is also showing a healthy appetite for paid content with 61% having purchased tablet content in the past year,” said Pam Horan, President of the OPA. “Considering tablets have only been available for a little over two years, the findings of this study truly underscore the possibilities for publishers to grow their business as consumers are willing to open their wallets in order to have original content at their fingertips.”

One area of the survey may prove to be controversial. The new study claims that Android tablets are now on equal footing with the iPad, with 52 percent of those surveyed and who own a tablet saying they own an iPad, while 51 percent say they own an Android driven tablet. In fact, the survey shows that 28 percent claim to own a Kindle Fire. Only 8 percent said they owned a new iPad - though it should be pointed out that the latest version of the iPad did not ship until mid-March. That means, if the survey is to be believed, that the new iPad reached 8 percent penetration in the only two weeks.

From an advertising perspective, the study points out that tablet owners are (not surprisingly) more likely to enjoy higher household incomes than those not owning a tablet. While 41 percent of those surveyed had household incomes above $50,000, 59 percent of tablet owners were above this level – 20 percent above $100K, versus only 12 percent of those homes where no tablet is owned.

A PDF copy of the survey, as well as a press release, can be found on the OPA website.

Two things, I believe, skew the results of this survey: first, the timing was closer to the introduction of the Kindle Fire (the holiday season) than the introduction of the new iPad; second, tablet surveys will get interesting results due to the fact that many Kindle owners upgraded to the Kindle Fire, but are still using their new tablets as eBook readers. Likewise, many website owners are having trouble tracking Android tablet use because Android devices often trigger mobile websites rather than their desktop version.