Nielsen Maps The Connected Landscape

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Who's using smartphones, tablets and netbooks and what are they doing with them? These are a couple of the basic questions Nielsen is trying to answer through its new Connected Devices Playbook announced during Advertising Week last month.

The research firm Thursday released a summary version of the report based on an August survey of more than 5,000 consumers who already own a tablet computer, eReader, netbook, media player or smartphone, and including 400 iPad owners. Among the initial findings, tablets are still an emerging category, with nearly half (48%) of tablet owners describing themselves as "early adopters" and household penetration at only 4% compared to 25% for smartphones.

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That conflicts with findings from a Conde Nast study last week suggesting that most people who read iPad editions of its magazines including Wired and GQ are not early adopters. Go figure. But it seems like anyone buying an iPad up to now would be an early adopter almost by definition.

Apple this week reported selling 4.2 million iPads during the last quarter, signaling continued strong sales of the tablet following its launch last April. Nielsen found that tablet owners also owned the most connected devices with an average of six. People who owned e-books, portable game players and portable media players each had an average of five devices, and netbook owers, four.

Not surprisingly, tablets are not considered as personal as smartphones, with 46% of tablet users sharing the device with others compared to only about one-third of smartphone and e-reader owners, respectively.

Looking more closely at iPad use, the report found the Applet tablet has proven to be a more popular alternative to the iPhone for consuming print and video content and that a majority of iPad owners (63%) have already downloaded paid apps. Games are the top category, with 62% dowloading "Angry Birds" and other titles, followed by books (54%) and music (50%).

When it comes to advertising, iPad owners -- and connected devices users generally -- show a willingness to accept advertising in return for free access to content, at 57% and 59%, respectively. Almost half of iPad owners (48%) and 44% of connected device owners expressed a neutral attitude toward seeing ads on their gadgets.

iPad owners, however, indicated a greater likelihood to engage with ads they find interesting than iPhone users or connected device owners as a whole. And it's not necessarily because of splashier ads on the tablet.

For example, 40% of iPad users said they are more likely to click on ads that are simple text ads compared to 25% each of iPhone and all connected device users. At the same time, 46% of iPad owners said they enjoy ads with interactive features versus 26% of iPhone users and 27% of overall connected device owners.

Perhaps in part because of the novelty, iPad users just appear to be more into ads now. That translates into higher conversions. After viewing an ad, iPad users are also more likely to make a purchase either via a PC or in a physical store.

But with Apple Wednesday unveiling a new version of Mac OS X incorporating features of the iPad and iPhone, including the App Store and a similar grid-like interface for viewing your apps, the lines between devices are starting to blur. Convergence just got a step closer.

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