The Federal Communications Commission has frequently emphasized the rise in tablet and smart phone sales vs. PCs as more evidence of the growing demand for broadband spectrum, but the e-reader -- Kindles and their kind -- could figure more prominently in that accounting.
According to a just-released Pew Research Center survey, e-reader ownership has doubled since November 2010 to 12% of U.S. consumers aged 18 and older. That means e-readers top tablets, which are in the hands of 8% that same adult population, according to the survey, only slightly above the 7% who owned them in January 2010.
E-reader ownership is highest among college graduates, at 22%, and higher among those under 50 than over.
It is also the first time that laptops (owned by 56% of the demo) have been as popular as desktops (57%) in the survey, adding another piece of ammunition to the FCC's push for mobile as the trending technology in Internet access.
For both e-readers and tablets, growth has been fastest among Hispanics, who have the highest tablet ownership at 15%. Ownership also skews toward households with incomes above $75,000.
E-readers and tablets still lag behind other tech devices, though Pew points out those others have been around a lot longer. Cell phones top that list at 83%, followed by desktops at 56%, DVR's at 52% and MP3 players at 44%.
The survey was conducted April 26-May 22 among 2,277 adults 18-plus, by landline and cell phone. The study can be accessed at the Pew website.