The tablet market is still relatively young, with penetration in the fast-forward U.S. market only reaching 47% by 2013, but we are already starting to see some usage patterns emerging, according to comScore. In a survey of 6,000 tablet owners in the U.S., the researchers have found the Kindle Fire has more female than male users while iPad skews to males. It also found that Apple's tablet has the highest satisfaction ratings of all tablets - although across iPad, Android and Kindle Fire tablets, all rate relatively close to each other, and all of them are higher than the average satisfaction ratings for smartphones.
And when assessing what motivates purchases, brands play second-fiddle to functionality and price, with apps availability, along with cost, scoring as the most important factors considered when a consumer purchases a tablet.
ComScore found that Amazon's tablet has a customer base that is 56.6% female, the highest imbalance among iPad, Android and Amazon devices. The ‘why' behind this finding is not addressed but it could have something to do with Amazon itself, being first and foremost a reading and shopping site, skews more to women, as we have also seen with its earlier Kindle E-Reader products. It's also a funny coincidence that Amazon promotes the products with a woman's hand (pictured).
The iPad attracted a 52.9% male audience, while Android tablets appeared to have the most evenly divided user base. In total, tablets as a general category are equally split between male and female owners. In comparison, smartphones seem to attract a slightly more male than female audience, at 51.9% to 48.1%.
When it comes to age, the 25-34 year-old bracket is the most-common for tablet and smartphone owners, regardless of the make; with the 35-44 segment the second most-popular. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise; this age range would hit the sweet spot of having enough disposable income to buy a product that can cost upwards of $199, and being digitally switched on than older users and possibly more sedentary than younger users. Also unsurprisingly, the most common income bracket for both tablet and smartphone owners are those consumers with a household income of over $100,000.
What's perhaps more surprising is that even the Amazon Kindle, marketed as a price beater with its $199 tag, is largely following the same trend as more expensive tablets. That suggests that either Amazon's $199 price is still too high for consumers with less money, or that tablets are still largely aimed at a particular kind of user that fits into a specific socioeconomic class - or likely both.
Turning to what gets users to buy tablets, comScore found that on average apps availability and price are just as important as each other to consumers. (That should quiet those who say apps are secondary to the web.) That result varied among different categories - for example the more expensive but app-tastic iPad scored higher for apps than the largely cheaper Android and Kindle Fire tablets. It seems to indicate that if Apple did launch a cheaper device but with most of the same functionality, it could potentially blow all the others out of the water.
Still, today brand name/tablet OS are both a close second. The fact that consumers are so aware of the OS is interesting to me: it seems once more to indicate we are still looking at early adopters here. Interestingly services like music, video and social networking are broken out from apps, and all score lower on their own.
Lastly, in the area of device satisfaction, Apple's iPad, the most popular tablet in the market today, scored the very highest. But not with as wide a margin as you would assume, given its market share. Apple had an 8.8 on a scale of 1-10, but the Kindle Fire was nearly as good with an 8.7 rating. Interestingly the un-forked Android tablets scored the lowest at 8.2, but that category will contain a very wide range of models. Similarly, the catch-all category of smartphones also showed a comparatively low score of 8.1.