Home notebook work activities by country [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, September 29, 2020

Are many employees using home notebooks for work-related activities? What are the major work-related activities they regularly do? How does this vary by country? This MetaFAQs reports on the regular work-related activities with home notebooks among employees in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, China, and India.

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Work from home or stay at home – ready or not! (and supported or not) [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 20, 2020

As a long-time information worker, remote worker, and road warrior, I’ve learned to be flexible, resourceful, and use technology to my advantage. Whether I’ve been crunching numbers or presenting results from a café in Paris, my office, home, or somewhere in between, I’ve carried an evolving assortment of tech devices so I can stay connected and work.

However, there are many people who haven’t had this experience, and may not be prepared or supported.

This TUPdate investigates several groups of consumers and workers who will soon be encountering changes in their use of technology devices and services. 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.

Although a home PC isn’t a requirement to get online, it’s still the most widely used and most-useful device for many activities.

Chart comparing work activities by device type

Among one key group – information workers – one of the most tech-savvy and tech-reliant groups, a work PC is the cornerstone of their work activity. (For this analysis, “Information Workers” are defined as employees who used an employer-provided PC). Even though most also have smartphones, home PCs, and tablets, there are only a few work activities done more often on any other type of device. Smartphones, despite the many apps developed for them and their constant presence, only surpass work PCs for making phone and video calls. Tablets, which are increasingly becoming PC-like (and not only because of Apple’s marketing), aren’t being used similarly to PCs for work activities.

Information workers are only one of several groups to stand out as not having home PCs and being the most able to benefit from them. For this analysis, I’ve used TUP/Technology User Profile to look at three groups:

Information workers – workers who have a work PC

Adult students – attending a college, university, or other learning institution full-time or part-time

Elders – age 55 or older

Information workers

Information workers as a group are the least ready to be working remotely. While some employers provide work notebooks that could potentially be used at home, most don’t. Forty percent of US information workers and 58% of German information workers are self-supported, having no work notebook but having a home PC. Even higher, 54% of US information workers and 65% of German information workers are unsupported information workers, having no work notebook.

Size of key groups working or staying at home

While it’s possible that some employers will simply have employees bring their work desktops home for the duration of their time working at home, I expect that not to be widespread.

Students

A smaller share of students than information workers have no home PC. Among American students, this share (29%) is larger than among students in Germany. Although some assignments and online classes and may be conducted using a smartphone or tablet, I expect many will require the larger screens or horsepower of a PC. Tablets aren’t an immediate answer at hand: only 26% of students without home PCs use a tablet.

Elders

Elders are another group likely to remain at home. Although there are regional differences about the age level of persons mandated to remain at home, those requirements are changing quickly. For this analysis, I set the bar low for typical definitions of being an elder or senior – at 55 or older.

Within elders, I also investigated a particularly vulnerable group – elders living alone. This group is one of the most connected groups of all these groups, at least with respect to the penetration of home PCs. Only 5% of American elders and 2% of German elders don’t have a home PC.

Looking ahead

The conditions for COVID-19 pandemic are uncertain. I expect most employers to support their information workers with additional technology, even though historically that’s only been the case for the minority of employers.

For self-supporting information workers that already have a home PC, this employer support is most likely to come in the form of expanded software licensing to support employees that need special software to get their job done, and remote access software to allow employees to reach their office-located desktops, servers, or networks. In many cases, especially among larger employers or technically sophisticated employers, new support will include the requisite VPN and security software to help protect the employer’s confidential information. For those self-supporting information workers with home PCs that are too old or underpowered to support the employee’s needs, some employers may order and provide work PCs for their employee’s homes. Other employers may rely on the employees to personally obtain a home PC so the employee can continue to work.

For unsupported information workers that don’t have a home PC, I expect most employers to provide a work PC or to encourage or to reimburse their employees for a home PC. As for self-supporting information workers, additional software, connectivity, and likely printing capabilities will be needed as well.

This is a quickly changing time, and it’s currently unknown how long the stay-at-home/work-from-home provisions will remain in place. However, over the last two decades, technology users have shown a strong amount of habit energy and inertial. What they do with technology changes slowly, even while there are rapid shifts in the devices and services they use – and where they use them!

Inertia simultaneously saves and disrupts technological transformation. Scanners and printers with integrated scanners have been at the heart of the paper to digital change. So much that was paper is now electronic. The “paperless office” has been a hyped cliché for decades, and yet is truer with each passing year. Although electronic signatures have been legal for over 20 years in most countries, and digital copies are increasingly acceptable in many cases, the migration from paper to electronic lumbers along gradually. Consumers and businesses alike continue to need to convert hardcopy documents and images into electronic form.

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.

Home PC penetration update [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, January 2, 2020

Home PC penetration is stable

Home PCs continue to be a feature of online Americans. Four out of five online American adults regularly use a home PC, and this share has remained unchanged from 2015 through 2019. This is based on results from the 2015 through 2019 waves of TUP/Technology User Profile.

Use of more than one home PC has also remained stable. Half of online adults use only one home PC, a rate that has only varied by three percent over five years. Similarly, the usage rate has remained the same for the use of two home PCs and for three or more home PCs. Neither are online Americans accumulating or letting go of home PCs.

Home PC use by age group

Across all age groups, most online Americans use only one home PC. Single home PC use is lowest among younger adults and highest among older adults. Use of two or more home PCs is hardly different by age group, ranging from 26% to 31%.

In 2015, the patterns were similar. Home PC usage among younger adults is slightly lower, at 28% of those age 18-24 in 2019, down from 25% in 2015, although this drop is not material.

Doubling and tripling up among the young

Home PC penetration has stayed strong while smartphone and tablet penetration has grown, especially among younger adults. In 2019, smartphone penetration is higher than home PC penetration among online adults age 54 and younger.  Tablet use is highest among adults age 25-44, strong users of all three devices.

Looking ahead

Habits die hard, and consumers hold onto some technology as a safeguard. Home PCs are likely to maintain their penetration levels for the next decade. However, TUP has already shown that home PCs have been losing their preeminence to smartphones as the primary device of choice for most activities. So, consumers will retain and replace home PCs as an insurance policy for those times when they are more convenient than either smartphones or tablets.

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.

The persistent PC – with a perennial core [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, June 7, 2019

Americans continue to hang on to PCs as they expand their collection of actively connected devices. Instead of Tablets and Smartphones fully replacing PCs, they have added to the mix. Even so, the most-dedicated core of PC has settled to a stable size following the shift.

This is based on the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile study waves from 2009 through 2018, collectively based on research results from 77,847 respondents.

The PC-intensive have shrunk in numbers over the years, establishing a solid minority. The most intensive – Adults with more PCs than people in their household – has coalesced into a core 10% of American adults. Moderate-intensity users – those with as many PCs in use as persons in their household – have been stable over the last decade in representing around one in four adults. In 2018, 22% of online Americans had as many PCs as people in their household.

The drive to mobility has finished making its impact. The transition to notebooks over desktops peaked in 2012, while smartphones, and tablets to some extent, diminished the need for many adults to be using more than one PC. As the lines continue to be blurred between tablets and PCs, and in other ways smartphones and tablets, users will increasingly focus on their activities. Rather than looking at devices first, users will make choices based on what it will take for them to get done that which they want to do.

Profile of the many-PC users

Adults with many PCs are generally younger than average and with a higher socioeconomic status. Almost two-thirds (65%) of adults actively using 3 or more PCs are college graduates, in contrast to 44% of online adults nationwide. Most (86%) are employed or self-employed, versus 61% nationwide. Over half (52%) are millennials (age 22-37/born 1981-1996) versus making up 34% of online adults nationwide. Also, 59% have annual household incomes of $75,000 or more (versus 38% nationwide) and over half (56%) have children in the households (versus 37% nationwide).

More adults who rely on a single PC choose HP. HP’s home PC share of the installed base among those adults using only one PC is 31%, followed by Dell’s share of 25%.

Looking Ahead

PCs are a present and vital part of the online user’s experience. This is likely to continue well into the future, although the definition of a PC is continuing to evolve. Users have expanded their activities across their many and multiple devices, broadly accepting multi-platform software supported by cloud storage. From tablets adding capabilities traditionally the province of PCs and notebooks adding abilities previously limited to smartphones or tablets, the definitions of device types is shifting. However, users continue to embrace change, shifting their device usage patterns more slowly than they discontinue their older devices. HP and Dell have strong brand share and inertia, and yet face strong challenges ahead as users shift from doing what they’ve done with PCs, and increasingly embrace multiple devices and platforms.

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.

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.

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.