Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, November 20, 2019
The favorite collections
Users vote with their fingers, demonstrating what they like by what they use. The top combination includes two devices – a notebook and smartphone and no desktop or tablet – and is actively used by nearly one in seven (14%) online adults in the US.
This is based on the four most recent waves of TUP/Technology User Profile, the 2016 through 2019 waves. These were based on 7,336, 7,521, 7,886, and 8,060 US online adult representative responses, respectively.
The top five combinations are used by well over half (59%) of online Americans. All the top combinations include a smartphone, three include a desktop, three include a notebook, and two include a tablet. Four of these major combinations have remained the most widely used for the last four years.
Is less more?
Is it Marie Kondo’s influence, as Americans move to tidy up their choice of connected devices to only those that give them joy? It’s not that simple or dramatic. On the one hand, tablets haven’t substantially grown in market penetration. On the other hand, no single device type has satisfied the wide range of activities users do. Americans are continuing to experiment with their device choices. They are also becoming increasingly fluent about doing what they want to do across the devices in their collections.
Elders come on board
The average age of those using a PC without a smartphone has risen in the last year, reflecting the growing share of older adults using smartphones. Between 2016 and 2019, the average age of those using only a desktop or notebook – and no smartphone or tablet – has risen from 39.6 to 43.7 years old. Similarly, those using smartphones and a notebook with or without a tablet or desktop has increased among older adults. The combination appealing to a slightly-younger group is a desktop and smartphone with no tablet and no notebook.
Despite much media attention on some single winner-take-all device taking over, most American users continue to juggle multiple devices.
Although innovative crossover products continue to make media splashes and inroads, from foldable phones to all-in-one and convertibles, most users persist in finding ways to stay productive and entertained with their varied types of devices.
Consequently, in addition to new devices needing to stand on their own merits, it’s important to consider how devices interact with each other. How well can users start something on one device and then pick up on it on another? This is broader than a device or feature focus and relies instead on the interoperability of operating systems, apps, and the connecting infrastructure such as in clouds. The future will thrive with interoperability, not only in the background of connected data, but also in the foreground of easy user experiences.
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