February 9, 2011, 11:55 AM

Who uses what hardware, and how old are they?

A new Pew Research Center report sheds light on computer and device ownership.

Lead Photo

4% of U.S. adults already own an iPad or other tablet computer.

The mobile phone is a ubiquitous device, more prevalent than any other piece of consumer electronics, according to a new survey of 3,001 U.S. adults by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. 85% of U.S. adults age 18 and up own a mobile phone.

That’s far more than own a desktop computer: 59% of adults own a desktop. 52% own a laptop, 47% an iPod or other MP3 player, 42% a game console, 5% an e-book reader, and 4% an iPad or other tablet computer, Pew finds.

Retailers in mobile commerce or looking to dive in will be most interested in the demographic breakdown of mobile phone owners and tablet users. These are the devices that are driving m-commerce.

For mobile phones, the age range and the percent that own a device is as follows: 18-34, 95%; 35-46, 92%; 47-56, 86%; 57-65, 84%; 66-74, 68%; and 75 and older, 48%.

For iPads and other tablet computers, the age range and the percent that own a device is as follows: 18-34, 5%; 35-46, 5%; 47-56, 4%; 57-65, 3%; 66-74, 1%; and 75 and older, 1%.

“For retailers, you have to be where your customers are,” says Nikki Baird, a managing partner at Retail Systems Research who specializes in mobile commerce. “Increasingly, they’re not in stores, they’re on cell phones. And if they’re not on cell phones, they’re increasingly on mobile devices over fixed computing—laptops over desktops for Millennials, for example. Retailers have to consider their mobile strategies in that larger context—not just mobile phones, though that is the logical first step, but how that mobile strategy might play across other mobile devices, like tablets or e-readers or laptops.”

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