Forty-nine percent of worldwide respondents to a survey who knew what a tablet and an e-reader are said that they plan to buy one in the next three years.

Most of those people — twenty-eight percent of all respondents — plan to make the purchase in the next year.

The survey, conducted by Boston Consulting Group — a worldwide firm, despite the localized name — collected responses from 12,717 adults who use the Internet and read print books, newspapers or magazines. Responses were collected from 14 countries: Australia, Austria, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said they would prefer a multipurpose device like Apple’s iPad to a single-function reader like Amazon’s Kindle. Ninety percent of those interested in purchasing an e-reader over the next three years would use it for e-books, and more than 80 percent said they would use it to read online versions of magazines and newspapers.

But all gadget makers face a challenge: American consumers told the pollsters they would only spend $200 on whatever they bought. That’s less than half the current $499 entry level price of an iPad. The price point says, effectively, that consumers see tablets and e-readers as much simpler devices than a notebook computer, when in fact there’s a lot of engineering put into an iPad to make it run cooler and longer, to handle content downloads almost automatically, and to have a responsive touchscreen at a much larger size than a smartphone.

One more thing: Eighty percent of respondents interested in buying an e-reader said they would buy more content if there were multiple retailers rather than, say, just Apple or just Amazon.

[Photo: Engadget]