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Whether you're male or female, there's an almost equal chance that you own a smartphone. But what about tablets and e-readers? Do men and women share different preferences when it comes to the latest and greatest mobile devices?

According to Nielsen's latest survey of mobile device owners, the answer is increasingly 'yes.' In Q2 2011, it found that 61% of e-readers were owned by women, up from 46% in the third quarter of 2010. Tablets? Almost the opposite: 57% of them are owned by men.

In other words, borrowing from the concept behind the classic relationships book 'Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,' it would appear that tablets are from Mars and e-readers are from Venus.

At least for the time being. Both kinds of devices are still relatively new, so there's a reasonable possibility that in time, more women will purchase tablets and more men will purchase e-readers, balancing things out.

At the same time, there is a possibility that the devices do have a different appeal that won't simply fade over time. As GigaOm's Ryan Kim notes, for instance, there is research suggesting that women like reading books more than men.

If this research is accurate, the logical implication would be that e-reader ownership would remain higher for females. On the tablet side of the equation, surveys indicate that tablets are popular as gaming devices, so perhaps the stereotypical male gamer will support higher ownership of tablets amongst men.

Whatever the case, Nielsen's survey is a good reminder for digital marketers that new categories of devices are not the same. There are, in many instances, demographic differences between them which should be noted.

As opportunities to reach consumers via tablets and e-readers multiply, savvy marketers will pay close attention to demographics and demographic trends to guide their tablet and e-reader marketing strategies.

Patricio Robles

Published 26 August, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2393 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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anna

Hi Patricio, very interesting blog content. I am new in IM and I recently started a blog where I, with the help of my mentor Marc Milburn, help everyone who's interested to set up a successful internet business.
I can use your information very well,
thanks,
Anna.
P.s. I think I'll stick to books for the time being.:-)

about 5 years ago

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Phil Kelly

Interesting distinction of interests. It seems true thought e-readers are higher in women than men, and tablets are highly owned by men - at from my personal observation.

about 5 years ago

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Yves Goulnik

Also confirmed by anecdotal evidence... And so long as everything remains the same, e-readers lightweight, B&W, long battery life, with print material simply converted to electronic format (as when websites carried PDF versions of commercial brochures). Incidentally, I belong to the geeky, tablet category though reading lots on it, not playing games.
But can we assume there won't be convergence, in devices and content, adding multimedia, educational/serious games mixing narrative and interactive, live components, and that people will happily carry a stack of smartphone, notebook, laptop, e-reader, tablet? With tablets becoming increasingly popular as light business devices in particular?
Single device probably not, but who still carries a dedicated calculator nowadays?

about 5 years ago

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Angelina Foster

Interesting read, as it's early days for e-readers and tablets, I would like to see what the results are in a few years time.

At the moment, I have a tablet and don't currently know any other women who have e-readers....

about 5 years ago

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Steve Mikellides

Interesting article, it must be said out of the people I know with tablets and e-readers, it does seem that the tech-savvy guys are after the latest tablets, whereas more women are after e-readers.

Personally I currently have neither, but I do want a tablet, and so will fit the old cliche of boys and their toys!

about 5 years ago

Chris Matenaers

Chris Matenaers, Head of Digital Marketing & BI Systems at brightsolid Online Publishing

e-readers only do a limited number of things. Tablets do what e-readers do and then more...

e-readers have been around for longer and woman are by default the bigger shoppers, therefore there is a higher market penetration.

More men than women are early adapters, so they have more tablets, but as time goes by and prices decrease woman will buy tablets too.

almost 5 years ago

Chris Matenaers

Chris Matenaers, Head of Digital Marketing & BI Systems at brightsolid Online Publishing

e-readers only do a limited number of things. Tablets do what e-readers do and then more...

e-readers have been around for longer and woman are by default the bigger shoppers, therefore there is a higher market penetration.

More men than women are early adapters, so they have more tablets, but as time goes by and prices decrease woman will buy tablets too.

almost 5 years ago

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