Commentary

Tablet Time Sink: Steals Share From Game Consoles and Print

Sony Tablet

All those hours tablet and eBook owners spend with their irresistible devices have to come from somewhere. Among most of us, iPads, Kindles and Nooks are stealing mind share from console gaming. According to a new survey of 3,000 adult tablet/eBook users on Gfk MRI's iPanel, 59% say they are using video game consoles and handheld game devices less often as a result of owning their new platforms. Also taking a serious tablet hit are all forms of print, with 44% of owners spending less time with paper books and 42% with newspapers.

  Which is not to say that tablet owners are dropping games. In fact, they may be shifting their digital play to the new class of devices, since Gfk MRI also found that 69% of tablet owners have played a game on their device in the last 30 days, the most popular activity on the platform. Social networking is used regularly by 59% of owners, followed closely by weather look-ups (58%), music (53%) and general entertainment (48%). While the reduction in printed book use as a result of owning a tablet is balanced largely by the levels of ebook reading on the device (42%), the striking drop in newspaper and magazine reading among tablet owners does not seem picked up on the digital devices. Only 28% have read a newspaper on their tablet in the last 30 days, and only 27% have used it to read a magazine.

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Often overlooked in analyses of tablet use is the broad range of media experiences available on the platform and the ways in which they must now compete with one another for mindshare. On a tablet a magazine or newspaper is now competing directly for time against games, Facebook exchanges and Netflix.

Gfk MRI also broke a common myth about these larger screen portable formats -- that they somehow are less personal than cell phones. While the expense and in-home portability of tablets and eReaders position them for sharing, it turns out that the majority (53% of tablet owners and 69% of eReader owners) do not share their devices with anyone else. Only 38% of tablet owners share with another adult, with even fewer eReader owners (25%) letting someone else get their hands on their Kindle or Nook. Sharing does take place to some degree across generations, however, with 26% of tablet owners sharing with a child or teenager.

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