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Tablet computer ownership nearly doubles over holidays

Tablet computers are well on their way to becoming standard household gadgets, according to a new survey from Pew.

Pew's latest survey of U.S. consumers found that 19% of American adults reported owning a tablet this month, up from just 10% who reported owning one in December. Pew attributed part of this surge in tablet ownership to lower-priced tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet that hit the market late in the year just in time for Christmas.

FIRST LOOK: The Amazon Kindle Fire

Pew also found that the demographics of tablet ownership are even between men and women, as 19% of each reported owning a tablet this past month. Tablets do tend to be owned by more-educated users with higher incomes, however, as 36% of consumers who make more than $75,000 a year reported owning a tablet while 31% of college graduates surveyed reported owning a tablet. By contrast, just 16% of consumers making between $30,000 and $50,000 a year reported owning a tablet while 15% of users with just a high school degree reported owning a tablet.

Although Apple's iPad has completely dominated the tablet market over the last two years, a new batch of low-cost tablets started hitting the market over the past month, led by Amazon's popular Kindle Fire tablet that sells for $199 and that runs on Google's Android operating system. Amazon has claimed that the Kindle Fire has been "the most successful product we've ever launched" and Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente estimated that Amazon sold 5.5 million Kindle Fire units over the first quarter of its release. These numbers still pale in comparison to that iPad, however, which sold an estimated 13 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011.

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