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Nielsen: Only 5% Own a Tablet, But That’s a Lot



According to Nielsen numbers, only 1 in 20 people in the US currently owns a tablet of any kind. With all the hype some might think that ownership of tablets is pretty wide-spread. Looking at the Nielsen survey of 12,000 adults in the United States, one might conclude that tablets are in fact just over blown hype. There is a different way to look at this news.

iPad 2

GottaBeMobile readers know that the tablet was not invented the day Apple announced the original iPad in 2010. Much earlier Windows-based tablet PCs were introduced. Thanks to poor marketing and implementation, they never caught on with the general public until Apple introduced the iPad. Now there are dozens of different tablets or slates trying to take on the current King Apple which has about 80% of the market.

Focusing on numbers like 5% or 1 in 20 makes the adoption seem small. When you consider that this market is only about 14 months old in the minds of all but a tiny percentage of people – smart people like you – that is a pretty large number. If Apple sells as many iPads this year as they did last year and even if all the new Android tablets still only make up 20% of the market share, that means there will be close to 40 million iPads, Android tablets, and the other smaller players like the RIM and HP tablets. Some people will have own two tablets, but with around 330 million people in the United States that will mean around 10 percent of the population will own one just two years into the game. That will be true if there is no growth in sales in year two of the market. There will be a growth.

Tablets could go the way of the netbook with sales spiking and then dropping precipitously. For that to happen, something better would have to come along to replace the tablet. The netbook was largely replaced by the tablet. Unless Motorola or HTC comes up with a smart phone with a heads up displays showing the equivalent of a 20″ see-through monitor floating in front of your face and Kinect like controls all for a smart phone price, I doubt we will see a new product replace tablets soon.

The Nielsen numbers also prove another point – there is a huge opportunity for someone if they can make a product that competes with Apple. If that is likely remains to be seen. Such a product would have to …

  • be a lower price and/or
  • have better real-world features not just better specs
  • be made by a company that can produce enough of them to meet huge demand
  • have a distribution arm to get them into consumers’ hands
  • not violate patents or be able to defend itself if it is perceived to do so

All of these thing will have to be true for another device to really compete with Apple since it has such a huge lead in the early going. I think it is doable and I think Amazon is the company that can do it.



  1. Sumocat

    05/18/2011 at 7:11 pm

    Nailed it. Seeing tablet ownership jump to 5% from less than 1% is vindicating news as far as I’m concerned.

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