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Nearly half of US adults own tablets - Survey

Device category continues to grow even as cellphone, computer, console, and gaming handheld ownership plateau; more women own consoles than men

Despite the growth of gaming in recent years, the percentage of US adults who own game-playing devices has in many cases stayed steady or stopped growing entirely. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey of about 1,900 Americans aged 18 or older, ownership of computers, game consoles, dedicated gaming handhelds, and cellphones of any kind hasn't changed much in recent years. On the other hand, tablet owenership has continued to grow, as has the smartphone category of cellphones.

The survey found that 45 percent of US adults own a tablet, up from just 3 percent in 2010. And while cellphones as a whole are near-ubiquitous with 92 percent ownership, smartphones are still growing, with nearly 68 percent of US adults owning one. In the case of both smartphones and tablets, owners are more likely to be younger, more affluent, and highly educated.

According to Pew, about 40 percent of US adults own consoles, down slightly from 41 percent in 2009. The survey also found discrepancies in ownership by gender, ethnicity, and age. Women were more likely to own a console than men (42 percent to 37 percent), and Hispanics (45 percent) more likely to own one than black (43 percent) or white (39 percent) respondents.

As might be expected, there were also differences in ownership by age. The 18-29 age group had the highest ownership (56 percent), but that barely dropped at all for the age 30-49 group (55 percent). Those who were born before 1966 were significantly less likely to own a console, with 30 percent of 50-64-year-olds having one, and only 8 percent of those 65 or older.

Computer ownership has also leveled off, with 73 percent of Americans owning either a laptop or desktop (down from a high of 80 percent in 2012). Men were slightly more likely to own a computer than women (74 percent to 71 percent), but much greater disparities were seen along lines of ethnicity, wealth, and education. While 79 percent of white people reported owning a computer, only 45 percent of black respondents and 63 percent of Hispanic respondents had one. Only half of those with a household income under $30,000 owned a computer, while at least 80 percent in all other income brackets had one. Finally, at least 81 percent of those with some college education owned a computer, compared to 63 percent of those who went to high school and only 29 percent of those who had less than a high school education.

Handhelds were somewhat niche across the board, with 14 percent of adults owning them, more or less the same as it was in 2009. Those numbers topped out at 21 percent among the 18-29 age group and those with a household income of $75,000 and up.

Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.