How and where PCs and tablets are used differently than smartphones [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, January 11, 2019

People love their smartphones and find more to do with them than PCs or tablets. Around the world, there are few activities done with PCs as regularly as are done with smartphones. Furthermore, there are no activities done more so on tablets than on either smartphones or PCs. Usage profiles vary somewhat by country. Online adults in the U.S. use their connected devices differently than users in many other countries.

These findings are based on the TUP/Technology User Profile 2018 study of 14,273 online adults in the US, UK, Germany, India, and China. Of the more-than 70 activities in the TUP survey tied to each device, we identified those with the widest range of regular use across devices – defined as the difference between the maximum and minimum usage level between smartphone, PC, and tablet users.

The versatility of smartphones is shown by how much more often they’re the device of choice for nearly every type of activity, from shopping to social networking and fun. The range of activity use is as high as 65% – in the case of making and receiving personal phone calls.

Smartphones are being used the most widely for device-unique activities. The four major activities for smartphones – personal phone calls, taking pictures, text messaging, and storing one’s contacts – are infrequently done on a PC or sablet. Although the newest tablets have cameras that approach the quality of those on smartphones, less than a quarter (22%) are being used to take pictures. Also, despite being able to run apps such as WhatsApp or WeChat on Tablets or PCs, phone calls are primarily on smartphones, even while personal video calls have made inroads on non-phone devices.

PCs are mostly being used for email (personal or work), online shopping (bigger screens entice buyers), and online banking. Tablets are mostly being used for social networking and music listening.

There is a small amount of crossover of activity usage across devices. Two of the major activities for smartphones are also leading ones on tablets – adding photos to social media and commenting on other’s images or comments.

American adults use their devices somewhat differently than users in other countries. In addition to personal and work email, PCs are used more often than smartphones or tablets for shopping, banking, finances/accounting, and writing.

Tablets are being used more like PCs than smartphones. The major activities for tablets, although with smaller percentages than PCs, are also among the major activities for PCs. Also, in the US, UK, and Germany, tablets are used more often than either PCs or smartphones for reading a book and making small purchases in person, such as in a coffee shop.

Where PCs dominate

Smartphones aren’t the only connected device users actively use. There are many activities used at a higher rate on PCs than on smartphones are tablets. Sending and checking both personal and work email are high on the list across all of the countries surveyed except for India. Also, writing and managing text documents is a PC-preferred activity except in India. In Germany, writing documents is an especially PC-dominant activity. Also, activities relating to using a printer are strongest when using a PC.

Looking ahead

Habits change slowly. Not only do people find effective ways to use connected devices to do what they want, they also show inertia when slowly moving those activities to a different device. Even those users who have multiple devices continue to use the types of devices they had previously for some time before fully embracing a type of device new to them.

Furthermore, there isn’t a single “silver bullet” device that’s preferred for all activities. For some activities, such as reading a book, shopping, or watching television, having a larger display helps. For other activities, such as receiving phone calls or texting, convenience and mobility are key.

We don’t expect the majority of users to concentrate all of their activities on a single device in the near future. Instead, the multi-device experience will continue. PCs may continue to lose their dominance for the many activities they still dominate. Dedicated PC users may just move more of their attention to tablets, especially those focused on passive activities such as social networking or television watching.

About TUPdates

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP/Technology User Profile, including the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th continuous wave.

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.

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.

Continue reading “Are tablets and computers being used the same? [TUPdate]”
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.

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.

Continue reading “In home mobile devices, it’s Apple and Google outnumbering Microsoft [TUPdate]”
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.

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.

Pocket full of fun – entertainment activities [MetaFAQs]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 1, 2018

Which is more fun – the one-trick-pony device that does one fun thing well, or the device you can use for many types of entertainment?

In India, the most-preferred connected device for fun is a smartphone or a basic feature phone. Connected adults in India find more ways than those in other countries to entertain themselves with their mobile phones. Their breadth of entertainment activities is greater than with their PCs or tablets.

This is based on our most recent wave of research – the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2017 edition.

Unlike connected adults around the world in other countries, in India, smartphones are used for a unique set of entertainment activities.

More than half of India’s connected adults use their Smartphones for music and movies. Watching videos/movies and listening to music on one’s smartphone are regular activities at more than a third higher share of connected adults.

In contrast, when Germans use their connected devices for entertainment activities, they prefer their PCs. And when they use their PCs for entertainment, most Germans use a PC to play a game (39% of connected adults), hobbies (38%), and to watch videos/movies (37%). Very practical, those Germans, to use the larger screens of PCs.

Tablets have yet to make their way as being the most-entertaining connected device. Although tablets are growing in regular use throughout the world, only in the US and UK do they account for more than one-tenth of the preferred entertainment device.

Looking ahead

Entertainment continues to remain one of the reasons why people use connected devices. As both wired and wireless networks continue to expand their speed, this has made for more enjoyable experiences, especially for bandwidth-hogging activities such as watching movies or television. Similarly, as wireless carriers such as T-Mobile in the U.S. have removed or reduced data caps, this has reduced barriers for many customers.

Consequently, these types of entertainment activities have reached a broader swath of consumers. Consumers continue to be the leading innovators in finding ways to get to the content they want, meaning they’ll consider moving beyond the devices they’re using today.

Source

This MetaFAQs is based on the TUP/Technology User Profile 2017 survey.

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.

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.

Continue reading “How do (they) love thee? Follow their brand footprints [TUPdate]”
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.

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.

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.

Continue reading “The most creative – PCs or smartphones? [TUPdate]”
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.