Apple, Google, Microsoft – paths of expansion and contraction [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, May 8, 2019

There are many ways to serve technology users, and each family of operating systems – Apple’s, Google’s, and Microsoft – have expanded in different ways. While Windows-driven products are being actively used by nearly three-fourths (73%) of U.S. online adults, Apple MacOS and iOS devices and Google Android devices are each being used by half.

Device penetration by ecosystem

This is based on the results of our TUP/Technology User Profile 2018 and 2017 surveys, with sample sizes of 14,273 and 13,572, respectively, with 7,886 in the US.

Each OS family leads in their own way. Apple has more than 10% of Americans using one of five types of devices: Smartphone, Tablet, PC (Macs), and a TV set top box and service, or watch. Google Android/Chrome OS has a different set of five types, with speakers stronger than Apple and PCs weaker than any other. Microsoft Windows only has 10% or more of Americans using one of two categories: PC or Tablet.

Penetration growth for Apple

While market penetration is one important measure, even more telling is active device quantity. The average number of actively used devices has shifted in the US as well as in other major markets. Between 2017 and 2018, the average number of Apple devices in active use rose from 2.2 to 2.3 in the US, 2.0 to 2.1 in China, and 1.6 to 2.0 in India. Meanwhile, Windows use has declined across all markets surveyed.

Apple stabilizes in the US

Netting together the various Apple OS product categories, Apple’s footprint in the US did not change between 2017 and 2018. Growth within that base has been with a broader adoption of Apple TV. In India, Apple’s penetration has risen markedly, reaching 45% of online adults in India. Most of the growth has come from two strongly accepted products: Apple TV and Apple Watch.

Apple’s expansion in India

Looking ahead

We’re likely to see a further fragmented world, with Apple focusing primarily on breadth and Google on initial penetration. Apple will continue to focus on deepening their relationships with their customers while Google will continue its conquest for new customers. Apple’s direction will be one of expanding services and commensurate revenue streams, serving their unique customer base more deeply. Meanwhile, Google’s direction will be mostly about supporting any devices or services that will help them expand their data acquisition and advertising businesses. Apple’s expanded emphasis on privacy and security will play well with their existing customers and more importantly may yet attract users further away from the Google ecosystem. Beyond the speeds and feeds of the latest gadget, these softer issues of privacy and security are likely to help Apple more than Google.

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.

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.

Digital publication readership – to be saved by Apple News+? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, April 5, 2019

Magazine and newspaper writers envision a world of digitally-connected readers hanging on their every word. Despite the ubiquity of connected devices, from smartphones and PCs to tablets, that’s not currently the case. Fewer than half of online adults regularly read a magazine, newspaper, or periodical using any one of these connected devices. Also, while Apple’s customers are more active digital readers than most, Apple’s News+ service is being launched into a chilling headwind. This is based on results from our TUP/Technology User Profile 2018 survey of 14,273 adults across five countries.

News readership varies by country – a single non-universal choice

Only in India and China do the majority of online adults regularly use any of their devices to read periodicals. In the US, UK, and Germany, this rate is nearer to four-tenths of online adults.

Active readers are appearing to favor convenience over multi-device accessibility. Across the countries surveyed, nearly two-thirds of active digital readers do so with whichever of their devices is their primary device.

Also, it’s not as if even active readers do their reading across multiple types of devices. Instead, the net number of active readers is close to the sum of readers using their PC, tablet, or smartphone.

No single device stands out universally as the digital publication reading favorite. PCs are a favored reading device in the US, UK, and Germany. In China and India, slightly more choose smartphones over PCs.

The image of magazine readers sprawling on their couches, kicking back with their iPads to catch up on a beautifully graphical long read, only represents a small part of the market. Tablet news-reading is only done by a few. Across the five countries surveyed, only around one in ten online adults use a tablet for such reading.

Part of this single preferred-device approach may be due to the inconsistencies between publications across platforms. While some publications design for a large-screen experience, others aim for the smaller screens of a smartphone. Yet others haven’t seemed to do much aiming or development, seemingly settling with exporting PDFs of their printed pages.

Using connected devices to read subscriptions has sagged in the last year. Across all the countries surveyed, regular readership rates have dropped. The reduction has been most pronounced in India and China, dropping from 85% of online adults to 71% in India, and 65% to 53% in China.

One service to bind them all?

Service such as Apple’s recently announced Apple News + may help to change that. Making subscribing easier through a simplified app and bundled price may just raise the number of active digital readers, if not also subscription rates. Because Apple’s service was launched to only run on an iOS or MacOS devices, this a subset of the entire market. However, this subset is sizable. As of mid-2018, TUP finds that Apple has 100.3 million adults in the US actively are using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, which is 46% of all online US adults. This rate is similar among online adults in China (50%), and lower in the UK (44%), India (35%), and Germany (23%).

Apple’s customers are above-active readers. Among Apple’s customers, there is a higher rate of actively reading digital publications than among the general population. Half (50%) of users of any Apple iOS or MacOS device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac) in the US regularly use a connected device to read digital publications. Across the UK, Germany, China, and India, the pattern is the same: more of Apple’s users are active digital readers.

Looking ahead

Services like Apple News+ will likely be good for Apple and moreover good for Apple’s customers. Since Apple’s customers are already above-average readers, we expect subscriptions to be strong. In addition to the revenue flow to Apple and publishers, it could help deepen the connection and loyalty Apple’s users have with its other offerings – services and devices alike.

On first glance, services like Apple News+ may not seem attractive to publishers. If they view their TAM as only around half to a quarter of online users (Apple’s current foot print is 50% in China, 46% in the US, 44% in the UK, 35% in India, and 23% in Germany) this might seem like a glass-half-empty approach. Were Apple enable Apple News+ to more platforms beyond iOS and MacOS, the next-largest active-reader platforms are Windows PCs and Android smartphones. While this would likely entice more publishers, it might threaten Apple’s exclusive experience within its platforms. Also, for these platforms, Apple may need to make extra efforts to fulfill its promise of subscriber privacy.

However, to the extent publishers consider such a service as bonus readership, this may entice them and others to join. Apple’s customer base continues to have a higher than average socioeconomic profile.

And, as Apple continues to roll out additional subscription services such as movies and TV, many customers will likely expand and deepen their connections and loyalty to Apple. Also, we expect more readers to return to reading as they discover the digital experience to be more enjoyable and straightforward.

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.

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.

How do (they) love thee? Follow their brand footprints [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 17, 2017


“How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways.” So begins the 43rd of Elizabeth Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. After more than 160 years, this poetry still inspires.

This classic poem seems fitting for a research-based understanding of customer loyalty and, well, mutual loyalty and love. One might hope that love and loyalty would flow in both directions – between customers and company – and in turn would result in more delighted customers, better products and services, and more customers actively using more of a brand’s offerings. In addition to brand footprint measures such as market size and intensity, MetaFacts measures the shape, loyalty, and quality of technology users.

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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.

metafacts-mq0137-250-dev_key-2017-02-22_09-32-36

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.


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.

Are most hearables being used by young males? [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 13, 2017

Wireless headsets have been available for more than a decade, and are strongest among two age and gender groups. These hearables-active groups also have above-average shares of VR Headset early adopters.

metafacts-metafaqs-mq0100-120drxhear-2017-02-13_08-31-37

The strongest segments for active hearables use include younger males – age 18-44 and youngish females – age 25-34. Penetration is above one in four among males 25-34 (27%) and among males age 35-44 (26%). Among females, hearables usage peaks among females age 25-34, at 15%.

metafacts-metafaqs-mq0100-120drxhear-2017-02-13_10-11-10

Looking ahead, we expect these same age & gender groups to continue as the strongest users of hearables and don’t expect other segments to be as keen on hearables.
These age & gender segments are in some of the most-active life stages, with the highest levels of presence of children, full-time employment, and household income. These sociological factors correlate strongly with higher demand for home entertainment, game-playing, and streaming music listening. Also, they are the strongest age & gender segments in tech spending for devices and services.

These age & gender segments are also above-average in their use of voice assistants such as Apple Siri or Microsoft Cortana, and hearables help to use these with the greatest of convenience.

In other words, many of these youngish adults are looking for a way to listen to what they choose to listen to, and for a way to be heard, if not by friends or associates, at least by their own digital assistants.

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.

metafacts-td1702-creatives-diagram-2017-02-09_13-27-42

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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