March 18, 2013 at 2:06 PM ET
A digital milestone of sorts has been reached: the continuing addition of smartphones and tablets to U.S. households means there are now more than a half-billion home-based devices connected to the Internet, and the combination of smartphones and tablets now exceeds the "installed base of computers," according to a research firm.
"Overall, the number of connected devices per U.S. Internet household has grown to 5.7, up from 5.3 devices three months ago," says a new report from NPD Group's Connected Intelligence.
"PC penetration among U.S. Internet connected households is nearly ubiquitous at 93 percent, but virtually unchanged over a three-month period."
In contrast, "smartphone penetration rose from 52 percent to 57 percent of cellphone users while tablet penetration increased significantly from 35 to 53 percent of Internet households."
"Even with this extraordinary growth in the smartphone and tablet market, PCs are still the most prevalent connected device in U.S. Internet households, and this is a fact that won’t be changing any time soon,"" said John Buffone, director, devices, NPD Connected Intelligence, in a statement. "However, when you look at the combined number of smartphones and tablets consumers own, for the first time ever it exceeded the installed base of computers."
The firm surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. consumers, age 18 and older, earlier this year. Internet-connected devices also include smart TVs, Blu-ray players, video game consoles and streaming media set-top boxes. But it's clear that phones and tablets are at the top of the list, and likely to remain so for a long time.
"It’s hard to believe that tablets and smartphones are still somewhat in their infancy," said Buffone.