Who are the tablet-first pioneers? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, May 2, 2019

Will tablets go mainstream, so much so that they’re the first device consumers reach for? A persistent yet small group of Americans use their tablet more than a smartphone or PC. Are the rest missing something? Might this edge group grow?

The size of the tablet-first segment

Over the last five years, the share of connected adults using a tablet as their primary device grew and then shrunk.

This is based on results from five years of our TUP/Technology User Profile study, each wave with over 7,500 representative respondents in the US.

In our 2014 wave of TUP, we found that 5.6% of adults were using a tablet as their primary device – before a PC, mobile phone, or game console. In TUP 2016, the tablet-first rate had grown to 9.3%, or one in 11 online adults. By TUP 2018, this dropped to 7.5%, or nearer to one in 13 online adults.

What other devices do they use?

Tablet-first users may choose to first use their Tablet, yet most have other devices to choose from. Nearly two-thirds of tablet-first users (62%) regularly use a PC, and almost three-fourths (74%) regularly use a Smartphone. They have other mobile devices, such as a Notebook (35%) or Desktop (47%).

Growing tablet reliance among the stalwart tablet-first

Most tablet-first users have more devices than their tablet – 94% have 2 or more. Seventy-five percent have 3 or more connected devices they regularly use.

Over the last three years, this number has shrunk somewhat. While in 2016 tablet-first users used an average of 4.3 connected devices, this number has dropped to 3.8.

What are these tablet-first tablets being used for?

Tablet-first users fully enjoy them. The users of Tablets as their primary device are busy with their tablets, checking email, shopping, having fun, and social networking. Over half of adults using a tablet as their primary device regularly use it for a wide range of activities. While checking personal email ranks at the top, shopping is nearly as strong.

What’s notably absent from the list of major activities are more-intensive productivity or graphical activities such as creating presentations. Most of the activities so far are more passive than actively creative.

That may seem odd to Apple-watchers, since much of the iPad’s advertising and development has featured the Apple Pencil for drawing and sketching, as well as creative video apps. Samsung has similarly touted their S-Pen for their Galaxy Tabs. It looks like the installed base hasn’t quite caught the creative bug, since these are relatively recent additions and emphases. Or, more likely, it’s harder to inspire the less-creative to start creating than it is to attract creative types.

Looking ahead

I don’t expect the tablet-first segment to grow beyond being a small group. Size is a key dimension affecting the future of tablets. As smartphones get larger, tablets will continue to be affected. The largest smartphones are encroaching on the size of the smallest tablets. Also, as companies such as Apple position tablets as computers, and those like HP and Dell create 2-in-1 and convertible designs, there’s likely to be further user confusion.

Tablet-first users are functioning well with a broad collection of devices, so it seems unlikely that one single device will capture their hearts and fingers.

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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How new are home notebooks? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, December 13, 2018

Home consumers are moving to newer Notebook PCs, although in some countries, older ones get used longer. Getting optimum value from one’s technology investment is a laudable goal, although at odds with having the latest and greatest.

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Work notebook users-Gender within employment role [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, December 13, 2018

Is there a gender difference in which employees use notebooks or don’t? How does this compare to the role of the employee? This MetaFAQs looks into the 2018 results of TUP/Technology User Profile to report on employees using an employer-provided PC and reports their gender by employment role.

About MetaFAQs

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 tablets and computers being used the same? [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, November 14, 2018

Is an iPad a computer? Is a Microsoft Surface a tablet? What about Chromebooks – how do they fit into the user’s uses? The major tech marketers are working to shift perceptions, such as Apple’s positioning of the iPad as a computer. Even though perceptions do shift buying decisions, user innovation and inertia are a force to reckon with. Many users have already pioneered ways to use their devices. We went straight to the users to see if they’re using tablets and notebooks the same, using iPads differently from Android tablets, and Windows notebooks from Chromebooks. Our basic hypothesis is that perceived differences, if substantial, can be confirmed by measuring user behavior.

Top Activities for New Home Tablets

iPads are more useful – based on users doing more with them. A higher share of users of recently-acquired home-owned tablets utilizes their Apple iPads for more of the major tablet activities than users of new Windows tablets or new home Android tablets. This is based on results from the MetaFacts TUP 2018 survey, conducted among 14,273 respondents across the US, UK, Germany, India, and China.

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In home mobile devices, it’s Apple and Google outnumbering Microsoft [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, November 7, 2018

While pundits puzzle and debate, consumers lead the way. Is an iPad a computer, have smartphones replaced other mobile devices, and are PCs dead? Consumers continue to find their own ways and use what they choose, defying definitions, headlines, and experts. From among three dominant operating system ecosystems and three main types of mobile devices, home consumers have found their favorites.

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Getting things done – The primary device from PCs to smartphones [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 28, 2020

Getting things done. Isn’t it one of the main explanations we offer when we’re buying our tech devices?

While much of actual tech device usage is about entertainment, communication, and shopping, productivity has its solid place in everyday use.

Whether using a PC, smartphone, tablet, or some combination, the majority of connected adults turn to their devices for everything from scheduling appointments to calling on a voice assistant. Based on our TUP/Technology User Profile 2017 US survey wave, 88% of connected adults regularly use one of their connected devices for any of a range of productivity activities.

Mobility is the key to productivity activities

Having one’s device handy is key for productivity-oriented people. The majority of productivity activities are regularly done using a mobile device – a notebook, tablet, or mobile phone. This focus on mobility has remained relatively constant over the last few years, representing over two-thirds of the primary productivity devices.

PCs as dominant device type for productivity

Americans use a PC of some kind for most of their productivity activities. This majority position has withered over the last two years, declining slightly from 54% and 55% of adults to the 51% mark in 2017.

During that same time period, more adults have made the switch from basic cell phones to Smartphones. This has helped mobile phones to increase their share as the favored productivity device, rising to second-place with 41% of adults.

Smartphone surpass desktops as a preference for productivity

Diving more deeply into the TUP data, and looking at connected devices in a more detailed view, smartphones emerge as the major productivity device. Even looking at desktops versus smartphones by combining tower desktops with all-in-one desktops, the year 2017 marks the first time that smartphones outnumber desktops as the preferred productivity device. In 2016, TUP showed that 37% of the primary productivity devices are desktops to 34% for smartphones. In 2017, this shifted to 33% desktops and 39% smartphones.

Voice assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, are one of the major productivity activities which have grown in usage, especially on smartphones. For those users who primarily use a smartphone for most of their productivity, 57% use a voice assistant at least monthly, a level which is 44% higher than the national average. They’re also 30% or more higher than average to be using their smartphone to manage tasks/to-do items, their personal or work calendar, store their contacts, and to save and play voice memos.

Notebooks, on the other hand, are making a gradual retreat as the productivity device of choice. These still stand out, however, for being above average for certain activities among those who favor their notebooks for productivity. Several productivity activities which are done on notebooks at 25% or more above average: collaborating on work or personal files, finances/accounting, write/manage text/notes/documents, download/use/update anti-virus/security software, and adblocking software. Yes, the productivity-oriented are more likely than average to block ads and get back to work.

For productivity-primary desktop PCs, however, only two productivity activities stand out above average in their regular use: download/use/update anti-virus/security software, and adblocking software. Although these two activities do reduce interruptions, they aren’t particularly productive. This indicates that desktops are likely to continue their slide from primacy for productivity. They’ll either be consigned to other types of activities or be overtaken by notebooks or tablets.

Looking ahead

Although habits change slowly, they do change. Even as users move between multiple devices, it takes time for them to migrate their behaviors from one way of doing things to another. Apps that have versions that support platforms can ease the user’s migration between devices. By simultaneously supporting multiple platforms, the app makers can also make it easier for users to get things done among their own collection of devices, further supporting the user’s own choices.

About TUPdates

These results are based on results of the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile survey, from 2015 through 2017.

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.

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.


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.