Ladies love e-readers; guys prefer tablets

Is it too early to assign gender stereotypes to gadgets? New Nielsen data suggests that e-readers are more popular with women while guys prefer their tablets. Smartphones are now equally popular between the sexes.

According to Nielsen’s second-quarter survey, 61 percent of e-reader owners are women, up from 46 percent in the third quarter of last year. Meanwhile, men make up 57 percent of tablet owners, which is down from 61 percent in the third quarter. Smartphones are used equally by women and men.

It’s still early in the growth of both tablets and e-readers, so there’s no telling if the skew will balance out over time. As time goes on and sales pick up, it’s likely we’ll see some more settling. But it’s still interesting to see these gender differences and what seems to be popular with each group, especially as e-readers have shifted to becoming more popular with women.

Does this confirm that women like book reading more, as research suggests, or do they just prefer a lighter device or perhaps a simpler, single-purpose gadget? And do guys just want more horsepower and complexity, or do they prefer more games? I’d be interested to hear your theories.

Nielsen also found that the demographics of tablet and e-reader owners are shifting, bringing in more older users. Tablet owners 45 and older used to be 23 percent of users in the third quarter last year but now constitute 37 percent of owners. Owners of e-readers 45 and older used to be 40 percent of all owners in the third quarter and now represent 51 percent. The numbers show that tablets and e-readers are appealing to older users now while their popularity with younger users appears to be sliding.

Again, it’s still early in the life cycle of both tablets and e-readers, and so we’re going to see a lot of shifts over time as more groups find utility in these products.