Deck the halls with pads and tablets! It seems the recently concluded holiday season has resulted in healthy sales figures for tablets and e-readers. This has probably lined Apple's and Amazon's pockets with enough cash to last until next Christmas. Would you believe that tablet and e-book reader ownership doubled over the past holiday season?

Tis the Season

Aside from spending time commemorating special events with loved ones, holidays are, after all, for buying gifts and gadgets. Computer companies often post strong sales figures during the run up to year end because of the gift-giving season. This time, it's the portable gadgets that are making waves in terms of revenues. More than simply biting off a big chunk of the desktop computing market, tablets and e-readers are likewise dominating people's lives to the extent that these have become the preferred email and browsing device among the tech-savvy crowd.

More and more people have been joining the tablet and e-reader bandwagon. According to Pew Internet, the uptake of tablets and e-readers has grown so big that ownership has doubled over the past Christmas and New Year season.

 

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In a survey of 2,000 users in the U.S., tablet ownership nearly doubled from 10% to 19% from December 2011 to January 2012. In the same period, the aggregate number of people who own either a tablet or e-reader has grown from 18% to 29%.

Low Price, Big Sales?

PEW attributes this market growth to the proliferation of lower priced tablet computers and e-readers. It can be noted that Amazon launched its Kindle Fire in October, planning to undercut other tablet alternatives in terms of price. The Kindle Fire retails for US$ 199, while the iPad 2 starts at US$ 499. And while the Kindle Fire can do much less than the iPad 2 and other Android tablets in terms of specifications and computing power, Amazon more than made up for it by giving users unbridled access to Amazon content, merchandise and services.

Amazon is likewise joined by Barnes & Noble, which released its Nook Tablet at US$ 249.99 near the holiday season, and likewise marketed its device as a lower-priced alternative to the iPad and other Android devices, with focus on ebooks and magazine subscriptions. PEW says the increase in ownership was mostly among adults with household incomes in the US$ 75,000 level and above.

Is This the Future of Tablets?

Tablets were a main feature of the recently-concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month. With tablets becoming more and more powerful, are pure speed and brawn going to be the main selling factors of these portable devices? Or will tablet manufacturers be better off following Amazon's and Barnes & Noble's model, which has, to some extent, been Apple's own strategy, particularly in its focus on apps and now textbooks? Specs may rule the PC market, but with tablets, content is the name of the game.