Fact Sheet

E-readers vs. tablets: The gender divide

Women prefer e-readers, men prefer tablets, and everyone loves the iPhone (duh)

"Is it too early to assign gender stereotypes to gadgets?" asks Ryan Kim at GigaOm. Apparently not. According to new data from Nielsen, men prefer tablets while women prefer e-readers. Here, a brief guide to this "interesting" high-tech gender gap:

How big is the e-reader vs. tablet divide?
Sixty-one percent of e-reader owners are now women, up from 46 percent less than a year ago, according to the Nielsen data. Meanwhile, tablet owners are predominantly male: Fifty-seven percent are men, a slight decrease since last year. On the smartphone front, the sexes are equal, with ownership split 50/50 among men and women.

Is there a reason for the divide?
There are plenty of theories. Maybe this confirms that "women like book reading more, as research suggests," says Kim at GigaOm. Or maybe they prefer a lighter device, or a single-purpose one. "And do guys just want more horsepower and complexity, or do they prefer more games?" There's nothing "intrinsically female" about my reasons for using my Kindle, says Irin Cameron at Jezebel. But romance e-books are one of the fastest-growing digital genres, and the vast majority of their readers are women.

Could the gap widen?
Sure, or it could disappear. It's too early in the growth of e-readers and tablets to draw any final conclusions, says Kim. The Nielsen data noted that tablet and e-reader owners are increasingly older. Those over the age of 45 now make up 37 percent of tablet owners, up from 23 percent nine months ago. "Older people are buying a lot of iPads," says Noah Davis at Business Insider. "Tablets are moving past the early-adopter stage and into the mainstream." As sales of both gadgets grow, the numbers could shift. 

Are there other differences in the gadgetry men and women prefer?
Yes. Inneractive, a mobile-advertising company, recently looked at the gender differences among users of various smartphones. BlackBerry users were typically women, while Androids were more popular with men. When it came to the iPhone, it was a near even split: 49 percent female and 51 percent male. Men tended to favor sports, arcade, and action apps, while women preferred apps for entertainment, social networking, and instant messaging. Guys also tended to click on ads more frequently.

Sources: Business Insider, GigaOm, Jezebel, Nielsen, PC Mag

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