iPod/MP3 Player Adoption At Tipping Point

Bolstered by the recent holiday gift-giving season, the number of American adults who now own an iPod or other MP3 player has reached 22 million, according to a Pew Internet & American Life survey.

“Based on the findings of this survey, it is clear that this technology reached its tipping point in the 2004 holiday shopping season,” said Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet & American Life. “iPods and other MP3 players have broken into the mainstream in a new way, and we’re projecting a lot more growth, probably an acceleration of growth, ahead.”

The survey was conducted between January 13 and February 9, 2005 to gauge roughly how many American adults now own iPods or MP3 players. The study didn’t poll teenagers, an age group that includes several million more users of such devices.

Pew determined iPods and other MP3 players are likely being adopted so quickly because of their relative ease of use, a plethora of downloadable music on the Internet, and because they allow people to become their own disk jockeys. People are beginning to adapt them as instruments of social activity, sharing songs with others, and are becoming drawn into podcasting, Rainie said.

Although the study didn’t offer specific numbers for podcasting’s growth, Rainie predicts in 2005, podcasting is likely to surge in popularity along a growth curve comparable to the blogging community’s rapid expansion. Pew is currently conducting a study looking at the growth of podcasting, results of which will be released in mid-March.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Men are more likely to own iPods/MP3 players than women. Roughly 14 percent of adult men have such devices, as opposed to nine percent of adult women.
  • Almost one in five (19 percent) of adults under the age of 30 have iPods/MP3 Players, versus 14 percent of people in their 30s and 40s.
  • iPods/MP3 players are generally gadgets for the well-to-do. Approximately 24 percent of adults with household incomes of $75,000 or more own a device. About 10 percent of adults living in households earning $30,000 to $75,000 have them, as opposed to 6 percent of those living in households with earnings under $30,000.
  • Internet users are four times as likely as non-Internet users to have iPods/MP3 players, probably because Web users are able to get much of the music they enjoy online; 15 percent of Internet users have iPods/MP3 players, versus only four percent of non-Internet users.
  • The more advanced the Internet user, the more likely it is s/he will own an iPod/MP3 player. Those with six or more years online experience are twice as likely to have them as those who first came online in the last three years.
  • Broadband access is strongly linked to iPod/MP3 player ownership. About 23 percent of adults with high bandwidth have the devices, compared to nine percent who connect via dial-up. Among adults with broadband access both at home and at work, 31 percent own such devices.
  • Approximately 16 percent of parents living with children under age 18 have an iPod/MP3 player, as opposed to nine percent of those with no children living at home.

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