MediaPost Publications Tablets: The 5% Solution 05/19/2011

Media mavens were all over yesterday’s Nielsen numbers about tablet penetration, and I am still trying to figure out why. The survey of 12,000 consumers showed that 4.8% of U.S. consumers own a tablet. This seemed to surprise a lot of people, leading to some weird hand-wringing over tablets not being that big a deal after all.

Not sure I follow this. Five percent sounds impressive to me, given that the $600+ devices have only been on the market for a year compared to the much more affordable and longer-lived e-readers (9%) and productivity-oriented and familiar netbooks (8%). Mary Meeker’s recent work demonstrates extraordinary interest both by consumers and the enterprise in adopting the platform, and even Nielsen’s numbers show a remarkable ramp-up in Q1 2011 from just a 3.4% penetration the previous quarter.

And don’t forget that engagement rates on the tablet continue to blow away almost all other digital platforms, along with consumer willingness to spend money on tablet content. News app developer TigerSpike (The Economist, Mail Online, et. al.) reports average engagement with apps of 30-40 minutes per session, literally multiples higher than many web sites see all month from loyal readers. I am not sure what is not to like here. That it didn’t reach critical mass in 12 months? Come on.

Completely agree with this take on the Nielsen numbers. Tablets are not only growing fast but also are devices that people engage with actively.

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