One in four Americans owns a tablet

A somewhat strange statistic has emerged from the Land of the Fee which claims that more than one in four Americans owns a tablet.

According to the Pew Research Centre, ownership of tablets like the iPad has overtaken ownership of e-reading devices like the Kindle, with the number of people using both continuing to rise.

It said that one in every four people now owns a tablet; while e-reader ownership is now at 19 percent. One in every three people owns some kind of device, either a tablet, e-reader or both.

This is a twofold rise for tablets over December 2011, when tablets and e-readers were level, with 10 percent of surveyed respondents said they owned one or the other.

What is strange about this figure is so far tablets have yet to find a killer app or anything really useful. The implication of the Pew study is that the tablets are being used for reading books and the world is turning to e-books rather than printed ones. If that is the case then they are slowly moving from eReaders to tablets.

However that cannot really be the case. Tablets really are not that nice to read on even with high res graphics. What Pew did not ask is what people are using their tablets for, as our theory is that the answer “not a lot” will come up.

When Steve Jobs re-launched the tablet, we said that it would fail because it lacked a killer app, or reason why people needed to own one. Several years down the line that is still the case. So the question is why do one in four Americans own a gizmo that they cannot actually use for anything useful?

The answer is in the Rubik cube craze. There is no reason why anyone would want a 3D puzzle but people bought it because they believed that it showed how clever they were. This is how tablets are being marketed. Essentially they are less useful than a mobile phone and woefully underpowered in comparison to a PC, but people have been convinced that owning one makes them technologically cutting edge. What makes tablets interesting is that somehow the industry has managed to convince people not to dump their tablets in the same way they abandoned their Rubik’s cube.