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.

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.

Samsung – American Customer Profile – TUPdate

Samsung has a strong number-two market position in the US, especially with smartphones, and has a distinctive customer profile from market leader Apple. This is based on our MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 survey and prior waves.

Samsung for the not-so-young

Samsung’s penetration is strongest among age 35-54, mostly spanning Generation X. One third or more of online adults this age are using at least one Samsung connected device: a phone, tablet, or PC. Of these devices, Samsung’s smartphones are in the most solid position. More than one in four online Americans use a Samsung smartphone, with Samsung’s highest penetration by age group at 28% of online Americans age 45 to 54.

The market penetration of Samsung’s tablets and PCs are among less than one in 10 Americans.

Samsung missing the young Americans

Samsung’s smartphones have yet to attract or dominate the most youthful American adults, which is Apple’s strongest suit. Where 39% of Apple’s iPhones are in the hands of American adults age 18 to 34, only 30% of Samsung’s are. Samsung is below the total national average in this respect, too, which is 35%.

Samsung for the not-so-busy

Samsung’s market penetration for its smartphones has declined among Americans using the greatest number of connected devices. Between 2018 and 2019, Samsung’s share dropped by 3 or more percentage points among users with 2, 3, 4, or 6 connected devices (phones, PCs, tablets, or game consoles). The only segment where Samsung gained is among those few Americans who only use one connected device.

Samsung’s Strong, Yet Sagging Share

Samsung has lost ground between 2017 and 2019, with its overall market penetration dropping or staying flat for its phones, tablets, and PCs. In the US, Samsung’s overall penetration has shrunk to 30% in 2019 and 34% in 2018 to 33% in 2017. The largest decline was in Samsung’s tablet penetration, which dropped nearly in half, from 11% in 2018 to 6% in 2019. This is due in part to Apple’s dominant market position with iPads. It is also a general retrenchment for tablets during a period when consumers have reduced the breadth of their tech device collection.

Samsung’s overall decline has been similar in China. In Germany, however, Samsung has effectively maintained its leading position.

Not Only Handsets

Smartphone subscribers choose more than a handset brand, also selecting their carrier. Verizon currently has the largest number of American subscribers, with 30% of online adults using a smartphone connected by Verizon with any smartphone brand. Verizon is followed by AT&T with 24%, T-Mobile with 13%, and Sprint with 8%. Among all these US major carriers, Apple’s iPhones dominate among their subscribers. Samsung is in a strong number-two position. Samsung’s share is three-fourths of Apple’s share with T-Mobile, one-half of Apple’s share on Verizon and Sprint, and one-third on AT&T.

Looking ahead

As the deployment of 5G makes its shaky rollout across the US, handset makers and carriers alike will need to tread lightly and deliberately. Those emphasizing 5G connections for subscribers without ample supporting coverage will lead to disappointment. On the other hand, those not incorporating 5G into their handsets run the risk of customers churning to other brands or carriers.

Samsung’s recent (February 2020) release of S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra smartphones emphasized their cameras and ability to capture and share high-resolution images and videos. However, users without a higher-speed connection or unlimited data plan are likely to have difficulty fully enjoying these capabilities. These phones include a MicroSD card slot, which will help address this issue to some degree.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources

Current TUP 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.