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68% of Americans have smartphones; 45% have tablet computers. Ownership of other digital devices has not grown in recent years.
Today, 68% of U.S. adults have a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011, and tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45% among adults, according to newly released survey data from the Pew Research Center. Smartphone ownership is nearing the saturation point with some groups: 86% of those ages 18-29 have a smartphone, as do 83% of those ages 30-49 and 87% of those living in households earning $75, 000 and up annually.
At the same time, the surveys suggest the adoption of some digital devices has slowed and even declined in recent years.
For example, e-reader device ownership has fallen. Today, about one-in-five adults (19%) report owning an e-reader, while in early 2014 that share was a third (32%). Ownership of MP3 players has not had a notable decline, but the percentage of adults who own one has hovered around the 40% mark since 2008. And computer ownership levels have stayed roughly where they were a decade ago. These changes are all taking place in a world where smartphones are transforming into all-purpose devices that can take the place of specialized technology, such as music players, e-book readers and gaming devices. Some of the changes in device ownership patterns are particularly evident for young adults. Among those ages 18-29, ownership of MP3 players and computers has declined by double digits in the past five years. In 2010, three-quarters of 18- to 29-year-olds owned an MP3 player; by 2015, only half (51%) had one.
There is a similar pattern with computer ownership. Today, 78% of adults under 30 own a laptop or desktop computer, compared with 88% who did so in 2010. Smartphone ownership, on the other hand, has surpassed both of these devices, with 86% of 18- to 29-year-olds owning one in 2015. In other words, as smartphones came to prominence several years ago, younger owners perhaps did not feel as much of a need as their older peers to have other kinds of devices.