Inexorable device trends – beyond the niche, fad, and fizzle [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 10, 2017

It can be exciting to see the hockey-stick charts, with everything up and to the right. It’s important to put the numbers into context, though, through a more grounded analysis of the active installed base. Yes, Apple’s long-climb into broader use of their triumvirate is substantial, Smartphones are quickly replacing basic cell phones, and PCs and printers persist. Their market size confirms their importance.

We, humans, are wired to notice a change. Our very eyes send more information about motion than the background. While life-saving should tigers head our way, this capability can be our undoing if we miss gradual changes, like the slithering snake in the grass creeping towards us. Watching an installed base of technology has some parallels. For some, it can seem as if nothing is really changing even while important shifts are taking place.

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What is the penetration of home-owned computing devices? [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 22, 2017

Mobile phones dominate home-owned connected devices like the ones used by the greatest number of U.S. adults. As of our MetaFacts TUP 2016 US survey, 87% of U.S. adults used a smartphone or basic cell phone that was home-owned. Slightly trailing mobile phones, 81% of adults use a home PC. Media tablets are a distant third place, at 63% of U.S. adults.

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MetaFacts defines home-owned devices as those which were acquired with personal funds. As released in our other MetaFacts TUP research, a substantial share of U.S. adults also use employer-provided, self-employment, school-owned, public, or other devices that are owned by someone other than themselves.

Within mobile phones, home-owned smartphones outnumber home-owned basic cell phones, with nearly two-thirds (72%) of U.S. adults using a smartphone and just over one-fourth (27%) using a basic cell phone.

Among home PCs, desktops and Microsoft Windows PCs dominate. Home notebooks have grown to reach almost half (49%) of U.S. adults. Although the tech-savvy consider Windows XP and Vista PCs to be passé and even dangerously unprotected from malware, 4% of U.S. adults are still actively using Home PCs with these operating systems. While adoption of tech products can often be rapid, the retirement of older technology from the active installed base can take much longer than many may expect.

Among home media tablets, tablets such as Apple’s iPad have higher penetration than e-Book readers such as Amazon’s Kindles.

Looking ahead, we expect slowing growth rates for PCs, mobile, phones, and tablets as happens when penetration approaches market saturation. Certain life stage market segments are likely to keep their basic cell phones active for years, partly delaying a shift due to perceptions of smartphones being complex or expensive, and partly due to simple inertia. This will further reinforce smartphones as being a replacement market. Home PC penetration rates have not declined measurably as an increasing number of customers switch between desktops, notebooks or convertibles, and newer all-in-one form factors. The penetration of tablets, while recently tapering, may see a resurgence should a broader class of tech users discover that they can do enough of their preferred activities on tablets. We expect the majority of home tablet users to be from those who are already using smartphones and PCs.

About MetaFAQs

This MetaFAQs is based on the TUP/Technology User Profile 2016 survey.

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. 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.

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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OS-polyglots are big tech spenders [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 15, 2017

Who are the biggest spenders – Windows-Only, Apple-Only, or some other segment? (MetaFAQs)

Google went high, Apple went higher, and Microsoft is left with the rest. That’s an oversimplification, and yet is reflected in household technology spending. Users of certain combinations of operating systems spend differently.

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Lowest-spending OS Combo

Adults that actively use only Microsoft Windows devices – PCs, Smartphones, or Tablets – spend less per year on technology products and services than adults who use at least one Apple or Google Android or Chrome OS device. Composed of some 36 million adults, this Windows-only one-sixth of connected adults spend $5.3k per year on their household technology products and services, from PCs and printers to internet and TV service. This indexes at 67, two-thirds the average national level.

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Highest-spending OS Combo

At the other end of the spectrum are those busy adults actively juggling devices with all three OS. These 27 million adults index at 134 for household technology spending, with an average annual spend of $10.6k.

Looking ahead

Household tech spending is not only about buying devices, whether running any of these three OS. In fact, tech service spending makes up 90% of the average adult’s total household tech spending. Still, much of consumer device spending is discretionary, which means that socioeconomics plays a big part. We expect that the major OS companies will continue working to attract customers into their OS fold. That means we’ll continue seeing the tug-of-war between openness and walled gardens.

About MetaFAQs

This MetaFAQs is based on the TUP/Technology User Profile 2016 survey.

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. 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.

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.

Usage guidelines: This document may be freely shared within and outside your organization in its entirety and unaltered. To share or quote excerpts, please contact MetaFacts.

The most creative – PCs or smartphones? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 9, 2017


Creativity eludes definition, yet we know and admire it when we see or feel it. Well beyond simple clicks, creative activities greatly add to the collective oeuvre while also giving voice to expression.

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It might well be argued that creativity is shown in the clever use of hashtags, emojis, or Snapchat video filters. I’m choosing to identify creativity broadly and practically – how the most-creative, most-involved tech activities get done. Activities such as creating presentations and videos require forethought and a blending of skills. Some activities such as taking photographs are now so widely commonplace that the activity spans the professional photographer to the budding amateur. So, for this analysis, I’m considering this a moderately-creative activity.

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Voice assistants – now we’re talking! [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, January 27, 2017

In the mid-1980’s, one of my Apple Macs overheard me on a phone call and startled me by speaking “Wouldn’t you like to know?”. The Mac’s dialog box suggested I had asked “Macintosh, do you have an Easter Egg?” Evidently, I had triggered one of those hidden messages some programmers like to include for fun. That was quite a bit earlier than today’s quirky responses after asking Apple Siri certain questions such as “What does the fox say?” or asking Amazon Alexa “how much is that doggie in the window?”

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Device primacy and OS – What we hold near [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, January 18, 2017

Primacy. The first device you reach for, the one you stay near, the one you rely on. You might think that it’s the smartphone, and that’s correct for many, but not all. For many activities and market segments, PCs and tablets dominate. A user’s activity focus affects which devices they choose most often, as does their operating system collection, among other factors.

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How many connected adults use hearables? [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, January 11, 2017

For ears, it’s an exciting time in the tech industry.

Hearable technology – audio-oriented wearables spanning wireless Bluetooth headsets to VR headsets – have received a fresh round of media attention. This has stemmed from substantial recent investment in new ventures such as Oculus VR along with a wider range of product releases.

Currently, one in eight US connected adults are regularly using a hearable device – either a wireless Bluetooth headset or VR headsets. This level of use is broad enough to represent great potential opportunities, yet not broad enough to sustain many competitors.

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The primary current use case for Bluetooth headsets is for phone calls, as has been the case for more than a decade. Apple is leading the charge to change this with their Airpods tightly integrated with iPhones, in a bid to help popularize voice-controlled usage. Voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Now promise to radically shift how users interact with their technology.

VR headsets are primarily being used for immersive games and reaching a slightly different segment than Bluetooth headsets.

About MetaFAQs

This is based on our most recent research among 7,336 US adults as part of the TUP/Technology User Profile 2016 survey.

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. 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.

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.

Usage guidelines: This document may be freely shared within and outside your organization in its entirety and unaltered. To share or quote excerpts, please contact MetaFacts.