Lawyer Cat and Windows 11 – home PC demand to rise [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, July 16, 2021

What do lawyer cat and Windows 11 have in common?

Embarrassment or fear of humiliation may boost home PC sales. If that doesn’t do it, staying connected and current will encourage home PC users to upgrade.

If you missed it, the “lawyer cat” viral meme recently had its day of fame. A tech-challenged lawyer compelled to participate in a mid-pandemic judicial hearing over Zoom got confused and embarrassed by having his face appear as a cat’s. Webcam software bundled with an older Dell PC featured a filter that changed a person’s image before being displayed through Zoom.

The lawyer cat meme has a connection to the upcoming launch of Microsoft Windows 11. There could be the fear of something going wrong using older PCs, especially those with older bundled software.

The newest version of the venerable operating system will reportedly require more robust hardware than is present in much of the installed base. The final requirements are still in flux. However, Windows 11 is likely to need users to have newer home PCs than what they’re actively using today.

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It’s a multi-ecosystem world [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, July 8, 2021

Building and maintaining an ecosystem promises untold benefits to companies. However, companies will not enjoy benefits unless customers see value in the collective experience. Encouraging customers to stay within a company’s family of products can reduce the expense of acquiring new customers and increase revenue from ancillary offerings. This TUPdate reports on the most pragmatic measure of acceptance – market penetration status of broad technology ecosystems. In this analysis, MetaFacts measures the market’s adoption of the three prominent operating system families: Microsoft Windows, Google Android/Chrome OS, and Apple iOS/iPadOS/MacOS.

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Communication platforms – fast, now, or visible? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 12, 2021

The frustrated plea “can you hear me now?” has evolved to include “can you see me now?” During pandemic and suddenly-working-at-home times, video calls have driven home the importance of having a robust, fast, and synchronous connection. Asynchronous activities such as text messaging and email don’t have the same need for speed and an instantaneous persistent connection.

It got me wondering – are people choosing one device over another for communication that demands higher-bandwidth or low-latency connections? Is there an age difference preference for right-now synchronous versus later-on asynchronous communication activities? Furthermore, are there other aspects beyond bandwidth and immediacy that encourage people to choose one device over another for certain types of communications? Are video work meetings, for example, more PC-based than smartphone-based?

So, I investigated our results from TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 to compare how widely communication activities are in regular use. I netted together asynchronous activities separately from synchronous ones. Then, I looked at differences by device type – smartphone, home PC, and tablet. I also looked at differences by age group, knowing that younger adults often have different sensibilities and experiences around communication than older or the oldest adults.

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Home printer trends in the US [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 25, 2021

Home printer penetration trend

Home printers remain a part of home computing if less core than five years ago. Only two years ago, in 2018, there was a noticeable drop in overall home printer usage levels, as the penetration rate fell to two-thirds of online adults from nearly three in four only two years earlier. Since that time, the rate has stabilized and even slightly increased. As of TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, 70% of online American adults regularly use a home printer.

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Smartphone activities by watch OS [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, November 19, 2020

The smartphone-smartwatch Connection

Smartwatches offer the promise to extend the user’s experiences. Most are tightly coupled with a smartphone and its ecosystem. We looked into whether smartwatch users’ behaviors are any different, whether they have an iPhone or Android smartphone. Drilling into the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 results showed there is a gap between OS and between countries.

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Key home PC trends [TUPdate]

Home PC Penetration

The home PC has been a central part of the American technology user’s world for years, and while remaining so for many, the home PC is slowly losing its primacy among some market segments.

Home PCs have been challenged by the emerging use of smartphones and tablets, not only among younger Americans. Older Americans have also rapidly adopted smartphones and are starting to discover how to use them well. Home PC makers, software developers, and service providers have worked hard to keep the home PC as a central device, or at least one that is included.

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Work from home on the shoulders of employees, for now [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, September 25, 2020

Working exclusively from home

Are you reading this from home? That makes you one of the 391 million of online adults working remotely we found in our TUP/Technology User Profile survey across 6 countries. If you are like the average employee around the world, you are also reading this on your own PC, tablet, or smartphone, and not one provided by your employer.

Home PCs are the new work PCs

Insights professionals in the tech industry already know from personal experience about working remotely. It was not too long ago that many researchers would be balancing notebooks on their knees in darkened focus group viewing rooms while reaching for another M&M or two. (Not that there’s anything wrong with M&M’s). However, most of the world’s employees do not have experience as remote workers, nor are they set up properly.

Working from home and working remotely have already been part of a long-term trend towards digital transformation. From the multi-decades-long move from desktop to mobile PCs, to the decade of rapid smartphone penetration and home Wi-Fi, consumers have more access than ever before. Terms like digital nomads and road warriors have lent a sense of panache to a lifestyle that has a certain effectiveness, if not comfort. However, in many cases, technology products and services have been pushing to generate demand rather than meet it. Many occupations, from factory work and food preparation to restaurant service, are best done in a fixed location away from home. Without question, digital transformation has been sped up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those fortunate enough to have jobs that can be done in whole or part from home have continued employment and income where others may not. As reported in an earlier TUPdate, working from home is for the socioeconomically privileged.

The rise in working from home

Employees that had not been exclusively working from home are now doing so. From our TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 wave (fielded in August 2020), we found that over half of employed online adults in the US and UK work exclusively from home. In Germany, Japan, and China, this rate is nearer to one-third or one-fourth. In India, 87% of online respondents who are still employed full-time or part-time work exclusively from home.

Percent of employed online employees that exclusively work from home - market research results from MetaFacts TUP Technology User Profile 2020

Employer size

Working from home governmental mandates and choices by employers and employees have affected employers of all size and types, although unequally.

From February 2020 and before, remote working has been a feature of smaller US and German employers before the lockdowns. Even in Germany, the UK and China, while rates are relatively low, the rates among smaller employers are higher than among larger employers.

After February 2020, working from home is new to employees among employers of all sizes. However, working from home is especially new for employees of large employers. That is the case among all the countries we surveyed and for those employers with 500 to 999, or 1,000 or more employees.

Statistics on working from home before or after February 2020 by employee size across six countries - research results from MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2020

Enlightened employers are few, yet growing

A small number of nimble, enlightened, or forward-thinking employers have risen to the COVID-19 challenge and are providing PCs and other technology to their employees working at home. The number is small, ten percent or less across multiple countries. Employees using an employer-provided work PC that they use at home and not in the workplace number 10% in the US, 9% in the UK, and 8% in India. These are the top countries among those surveyed.

Employees have borne the brunt of supporting their ability to work from home, with roughly half of employed adults working exclusively from home using their home PCs for any of a long list of work-related activities.

While the year 2020 has certainly been singular in the worldwide response to COVID-19, this support by employees has been a long-term trend. What has changed is the intensity of work using home PCs, which has become the hub for many employees.

Statistics comparing the use of PCs being used for work in the home and whether they are employer provided or personally acquired PCs, by six countries, from research conducted by MetaFacts in TUP/Technology User Profile 2020

Home PCs being used for work-related activities

Currently employed online adults have been resourceful using their home PCs for getting work done. Communication is key, with home PCs being used for everyday work email to web-based chats and meetings. Furthermore, employees are using their home PCs to tap into cloud services for storing files and collaborating on documents.

Whether or not having meetings follow employees home is more productive or less so is still open to confirmation. Employees working from home reported major productivity benefits including in their top five: less time commuting, money savings on gas and work clothes, and more flexibility. Also in their top five were human issues: being able to spend more time with family and pets, and being able to minimize the impact of COVID-19, whether by not getting infected themselves or not risking spreading it to others.

Research results reporting on how home PCs are being used for work-related activities from the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 study across six countries

Looking ahead

The current situation is unlikely to persist as it is very long for many reasons, many of which are beyond the scope of the TUP/Technology User Profile survey. It is economically unsustainable to have so many employees not employed, underemployed, or doing work that is not part of their main occupation. Many occupations and industries simply do not lend themselves to remote work, such as manufacturing and service jobs. As fun as VR headsets can be, current technology can only support so much. While the current situation may spur stepped up innovation, and that is certainly happening in some sectors, it seems unlikely that changes will come rapidly enough for more than only a few sectors.

Beyond that, employers, many of whom are already fiscally challenged, may be hard-pressed to come to the table with even basic personal computers, printers, and internet connections. Employers certainly have not shown precedent. Historically, most employees have paid for their own technology to do work outside of the workplace, from their personal home PCs, home printers, and smartphones purchased personally. That is especially true for U.S. employees. In TUPdates to come, we will be analyzing more of the TUP results with a focus on those working from home. We will be looking more deeply into the technology they are using for work and play, what they are planning to buy, the brands they are using, and profiling who they are. We will be especially drilling down in the TUP datasets to look more closely at parents, industries, the self-employed, and students.

About TUPdates

TUPdates feature analysis of current or essential technology topics. The research results showcase the TUP/Technology User Profile study, MetaFacts’ survey of a representative sample of online adults profiling the full market’s use of technology products and services. The current wave of TUP is TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, which is TUP’s 38th annual. TUPdates may also include results from previous waves of TUP.

Current subscribers may use the comprehensive TUP datasets to obtain even more results or tailor these results to fit their chosen segments, services, or products. As subscribers choose, they may use the TUP inquiry service, online interactive tools, or analysis previously published by MetaFacts.

On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions about technology users – or TUPdates – analysis of current and essential technology industry topics. To subscribe, contact MetaFacts.

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