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, and 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.

The home PC is not down and out – not by a long shot. The humble PC is in use by most online Americans. In 2020, 75% of online adults in the US actively use a home PC. From 2015 to 2019, this level was effectively flat at 80%.

Number of Home PCs is Shrinking

Home PCs, while widely used, are not as intensively used within American households as before. Online adults are using slightly fewer home PCs than in recent years. From 2015 through 2020, half of online Americans used only one home PC, with that number lowering slightly to match its levels of 2016.

In 2020, 26% of online adults use two or more home PCs. Previously, from 2015 through 2019, 28% to 32% of online adults used two or more home PCs.

Age of Home PC by User Age

If a smaller number of Americans are using a home PC and even using fewer home PCs, at least more Americans are using a newer home PC.

Continuing a trend that has held for most of the last eight years, younger adults continue to use the newest home PCs. Older Americans keep their home PCs longer.

Americans age 18-24 are using a home PC two years old on average. Meanwhile, users age 65+ are using a home PC 3.6 years old on average.

Major Home PC Activities are Age-Skewed

Home PCs are used differently by the young and old. That is especially true for the top 12 home PC activities, those regularly done.

Older adults are getting more use out of their home PCs than young adults are. All the major home PC activities are being used by a higher share of older than younger Americans, save one.

There is only one exception – watching videos/movies. The share is higher among younger adults than among older adults, although only slightly so.

Looking Ahead

While it may seem that losing younger adults spells the end of the home PC market, that is a bit of a stretch. There is much going on in the market and economy now that affects younger Americans in different ways than even slightly older ones. Employment status and educational status is in flux, strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and accommodations to minimize its impact. Younger adults have a lower employment rate than other age groups, and more importantly a lower work-from-home rate. Many that had been employed were in occupations that were less supportive of working remotely. Furthermore, younger Americans are facing stronger economic challenges than in years past.

Meanwhile, somewhat older employed adults that work in occupations where they can work remotely are doing so. In many cases, working remotely is something they are doing for the first time. Among these active employed adults, home PCs are being pressed into service as work PCs. There has already been a long trend towards using home PCs for work-related activities. From our TUP 2020 survey results, it does appear that most employers are stepping up to provide employer-owned PCs to remote workers. It seems most likely that employees will continue to support their employers and themselves by using their own home-owned PCs in addition to their smartphones.

Smartphones, while increasing being used for activities which had been primarily ones done on home PCs, are still not the preferred platform for certain key activities. Shoppers seem to want bigger screens as they consider their purchases. TV and video watchers also prefer bigger screens.

Meanwhile, tablets simply have not gained enough market strength to replace home PCs. Many notebook home PC users are not even using their notebooks for mobility, hardly leaving home with them. And this “buy mobility/use it like a desktop” trend has been in place well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In short, home PCs are highly likely to have a place in American homes for years to come.

About TUPdates

The information in this TUPdate is based on the most recent wave of the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile study, its 2020 wave, the 38th annual wave. Where noted, results are drawn from previous versions back to TUP 2013. This TUPdate is focused on the US, and comparable information results are available from the UK, Germany, Japan, China, and India. More information on this topic is available in published results already released to subscribers, and in the forthcoming US Home PC Trends Highlights Report.

On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions – or TUPdates – analysis of current topics in the technology industry. To learn about subscribing to the TUP/Technology User Profile service, contact MetaFacts.

Most home notebooks never leave home [MetaFAQs]

In our TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 survey, we found that the majority of home notebooks are only used within the home. This is based on 8,034 online adults across Japan, the UK, Germany, the US, China, and India. Although home notebooks are sold with the ability to be carried to many locations, most stay home, only venturing between rooms of the user’s home.

About MetaFAQs

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. They are drawn from the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile datasets, the latest research developed through surveys. TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 is in its 38th continuous year.

Current subscribers to TUP may request answers like these through their inquiry service, the online interactive tool, or the TUP datasets. This gives the ability to drill down more deeply into other segments, services, or products.

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

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

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

The information referred to in this TUPdate is based on the results gathered in TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, its 38th annual wave, and based on surveys in to the US, UK, Germany, Japan, China, and India.

Current subscribers to TUP/Technology User Profile will be receiving a full report on working from home and remote work as part of TUP and its Work/Life Balance section. Also, clients with inquiry privileges may request more detailed analysis into their own choice of market segments, technology products and services.

Parents sharing their home technology – or not [TUPdate, MetaFacts Pulse Survey]

Busy parents are busier than ever

Parents are busier than ever with the many stay at home conditions and school closures across the US now.

Two days ago (April 22, 2020), we surveyed 322 online adults with children 18 or younger. We asked them about the computing devices in their homes, how they share them, what they plan to buy in the next few months, and how an additional home PC might affect their home.

Most parents say they have enough computing devices at home. Nearly two-thirds (61%) have as many or more PCs or tablets than people. Many parents said an additional personal PC is not really wanted, as most (35%) say it would make no difference and feel they have enough (12%).

Those few who would welcome a new home computer value several benefits. One-sixth (16%) expect more efficiency – getting more done with less effort, whether it is more schoolwork or for work from home. Almost as many (14%) expect they would have to share the PCs they have less often. They predict there would be fewer fights between their children. (and who wouldn’t appreciate that!).

Yours, mine, and mine

With the many PCs they have in their home, we asked how and if they share them amongst themselves.

More than half (55%) share PCs, with higher priority given to schoolwork (34%) and working from home (25%). Another half (48%) do not regularly share PCs.

So much to choose from

American parents have been the biggest buyers of home technology for the last three decades of tracking them as part of TUP/Technology User Profile. As of our April 22, 2020 survey, 61% of adults with children in the home have as many or more computing devices (desktops, notebooks, or tablets) than people in the home.

Although many of the reasons have shifted over the years, a common thread throughout this time has been caring for children’s education, household entertainment, communication (think email and social networking), and basics such as personal finances. More recently, with the COVID-19 crisis and so many parents staying at home with their kids, there is an enhanced need for many to support their children’s education with homeschooling. Plus, many are now working from home and so now content for the same devices.

Hey kids – be quiet!

Over the next 3 months, as many intend to buy a notebook PC as buy a tablet. Mobility is key, even if currently it means moving from room to room instead of traveling on a plane, train, or automobile.

Computing devices rank strongly, with 39% plan to buy at least one computing device, whether it is a notebook (21%), tablet (20%) or desktop (12%).

Considering planned items individually, managing sound is important while staying at home. Headsets/headphones top the list of planned items, at 34%. Although our survey did not specifically ask this question, having been a parent of teenagers, it is likely that not everyone in the house shares the same musical tastes, much less the same volume levels. Plus, many of the top over-the-ear headsets include noise-cancelling features that could come in handy for either children or their parents. Speakers are the 2nd-mentioned planned purchase, at 22%. These may be for those fortunate enough to have a living space with enough space or walls.

One in six parents (17%) cited their intention to buy a printer. That is not surprising, since in our previous TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 survey we measured printer penetration at 68% in the US, slightly down from prior years. Many new homeschoolers are undoubtedly realizing that a printer is vital for children’s homework, for creative projects, and for working from home.

Interestingly, among homes with children, the ones with strongest purchase plans overall are those that already have computing devices than people. There is a good amount of tech-accumulation in the works, especially among those with the most tech. So much for the tidying up and minimizing lessons of Marie Kondo.

About this TUPdate

MetaFacts conducted independent research to gather the results used in this TUPdate. The projections of total US adults with children are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents. Also, this TUPdate included results from the April 22nd, 2020 wave of the MetaFacts Parent Study, the first wave of a special study focused on the quickly changing situation. This wave included responses from 322 online adults with children age 18 or younger in their home.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. Subscribers to the MetaFacts Parent Study may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Parent Study, please contact MetaFacts.

MetaFacts work from home study – Highlights [Pulse Survey]

This TUPdate investigates and profiles working Americans who are working from home. With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shifts taking place now, many are not technologically ready for a work-at-home or stay-at-home experience.

MetaFacts conducted a series of surveys during the periods March 26-30, 2020, and April 8, 2020.

The demographics of working from home

Working from home is in full swing for now. Although not all workers can or are working from home, those who are mostly use (not employer-provided) personal computing devices. They also favor consumer-oriented video communications platforms. Their purchase intentions are weak, and mostly focused on backfilling the basics needed for working from home.

Two-thirds (64%) of online Americans who are employed or self-employed were working at home on April 8, 2020.

There are many Americans who aren’t. One in eight (12%) who were employed in February 2020 are not currently working.

Of those working from home, most are in upper socioeconomic groups.

More than three-fourths (78%) of adults in households with income of $85,000 or more in the prior year are working from home. This is in stark contrast to the near-half levels among those with incomes of less than $50,000 per year.

Full-time employees and those who were already self-employed in a home-based business in February 2020 also had the highest work-at-home rates.

Computing Devices for Work

Most workers working from home are using their own personally-purchased products as their primary computing device. 58.2% of workers working from home as of April 8th, 2020 were using a personal device versus 41.8% who were using an employer-provided device.

Among Information Workers – defined for this study as those workers who were already using an employer-provided PC in February 2020 – 39.7% are using a personal device as their primary computing device for work.

Working from home means a mobile device, even though due to stay-at-home restrictions mobile tech workers can’t bring them to coffee cafés. Working from home is a new experience for many, and most homes don’t have a dedicated workspace, much less a dedicated desk for the new work-at-home worker. So, portability even with a home is helpful. Mobile devices – notebook PCs – are the primary computing device for Americans working as of April 8, 2020.

Video calling and conferencing by those working at home

Zoom has earned a lot of attention and users during the pandemic as a popular option for anyone online working at home seeking to connect by video with friends and family, as well as with coworkers and customers. Among workers working at home, Zoom is used most widely for work video calls and video conferences. Apple’s FaceTime is most widely used for personal video calls. For personal video conferences, Skype is slightly ahead of Zoom. For personal video calls, Apple’s FaceTime leads.

More broadly, Microsoft’s, Google’s, and Facebook’s combined video communications platforms reach the greatest share of at-home workers. Microsoft’s offerings – Skype, Meet Now, or Teams – taken together are used by the most at-home workers, slightly ahead of Google’s set of offerings – Hangouts, Duo or Meet. Facebook’s set are mostly used for personal video conferences or calls.

Planned Purchases

When we asked workers about their purchase plans for the next three months, no single technology was mentioned among one-tenth of workers.

Nearly as many workers have plans for tech products or services they will purchase with their own funds as expect to have bought by their employers.

Workers expect their employers to acquire collaboration software, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or even cloud-based collaboration tools. Workers also anticipate their employers to set up VPNs-Virtual Private Networks to help maintain the security of their communication with their workplace networks or computers. Third on most worker’s list are an extra monitor/display and a desk, both items widely found in many workplaces.

From their own personal funds, workers plan to purchase a notebook PC, webcam, and extra monitor/display. (Presumably if their employer doesn’t come through). Other basics for replicating a work-at-home office include a headset or headphones, tablet (perhaps for working from the couch?), speakers, a chair, and a desk.

Employment and non-employment by demographics

Between February 2020 and April 8, 2020 (the date of this survey), the number of employed Americans dropped precipitously. Nationally, 88% of online adult Americans that were employed in February were still working by April 8, 2020, meaning that 12% were not. This share is generally in line with unemployment claims reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both time periods include those working full-time, part-time, or self-employed.

The demographics about who was and was not still working shows a wide variation. Generally, fewer lower-income, part-time, and lesser-skilled workers are still working than were working in February.

The pandemic has currently affected some regions more than others. There are also regional differences in stay-at-home orders, those deemed essential, and those affected by business closures or layoffs. Among the major states, New York has the highest national percentage of non-workers, followed by New Jersey and California.

Occupation and working from home

Change in Employment from February to March 2020, by Occupation

Educational attainment and working from home

Primary Work Computing Device – February and March 2020

We asked two questions:

In February 2020, which computing device did you use as your primary work device?

While working at home, what is your primary computing device?

Benefits of working from home

Age of workers working from home

Household size for Americans working from home

Home Delivery Services for workers working at home

Definitions of terms used in this analysis

April 8 Workers – working full-time, part-time, or self-employed on April 8, 2020

March Workers – working full-time, part-time, or self-employed during March 2020

February Workers – working full-time, part-time, or self-employed during February 2020

Work from home – working from home as of the fielding date of the survey wave

Information workers – having had an employer-provided desktop PC in February 2020

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from MetaFacts Pulse surveys conducted March 26-30, 2020 with 772 online adults, and conducted April 8, 2020 with 530 online adults, drawn to be representative of American online adults who were working full-time, part-time, or self-employed in February 2020.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.