By Pew's latest survey numbers, "A third (34%) of American adults ages 18 and older own a tablet computer like an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire—almost twice as many as the 18% who owned a tablet a year ago."
While tablet computers aren't new, their popularity only dates back to April 3, 2010 when Apple introduced the iPad. By May 2010, older tablets and the iPad reached 3% of the adult market. Not three years later, the number of tablet owners has increased eleven-fold.
Who are these people? Pew's numbers reveal few surprises:
Demographic groups most likely to own tablets include:
Those living in households earning at least $75,000 per year (56%), compared with lower income brackets
Adults ages 35-44 (49%), compared with younger and older adults
College graduates (49%), compared with adults with lower levels of education
The Pew survey did find one oddity: "Unlike smartphones, which are most popular with younger adults ages 18-34, we see the highest rates of tablet ownership among adults in their late thirties and early forties. In fact, almost half (49%) of adults ages 35-44 now own a tablet computer, significantly more than any other age group. Adults ages 65 and older, on the other hand, are less likely to own a tablet (18%) than younger age groups." In other words, when it comes to tablets, Generation X--not the Baby Boomers nor the Millennials, aka Generation Y--are the ones driving tablet sales.
We're well on our way to a world where tablets, and not PCs, will be the most popular computing device and the real battle for market supremacy will be between Apple and Google's Android allies. No one else at this point—Firefox, Microsoft, Ubuntu—appear to be in the running for top tablet honors.