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.

Multi OS jugglers – finger foibles [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, May 30, 2019

Finger foibles? Muscle memory? Most of us have done it – found our fingers fumbling for a key that isn’t on this keyboard, tapping a screen that’s not touch-sensitive, or expecting some function that’s not available on the device we’re using. Juggling devices across multiple operating system ecosystems can reveal our learned shortcuts and ingrained habits. And, a multi-OS experience affects most of us. More than two-thirds (69%) of online adults use two or more of the major operating systems – Windows, Android, iOS, or MacOS. Put another way, less than a third of online Americans use only one OS.

Who are these focused users who have chosen to stay within a single OS ecosystem, and how numerous are they? And, who are the flexible cross-platform savants who find a way to manage moving betwixt and between their collection of devices and ecosystems?

Who has the fanboys?

Microsoft Windows can rightly claim that they have the largest active base of dedicated fans. Over half (53%) of American adults who use a single OS are using Windows. As dedicated as they are, this group is relatively small, made up of only one in six (17%) online American adults.

This is based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2018, conducted among 7,521 online adults.

Those only using Apple iOS are fewer in number. Among single-OS users, they number just over one-fourth (28%). This is less than one in ten American adults, at 9%.

Even smaller is the hardy band of Android-only users, at one-sixth (17%) of single-US users and 5% of American adults.

What do the the flexible use?

Among the 69% of online American adults that use multiple OS ecosystems, Microsoft Windows is the most prevalent, with over half (57%) of online adults, and 83% of those who use more than one OS. So, anyone hoping to reach a broader market needs to seriously include Windows in their target platforms.

Those using Apple iOS or Google Android and nearly anything else are nearly equal in number. Just over half (53%) of those using multiple platforms are using Google Android, and slightly under half (48%) are using Apple iOS devices.

Which OS has the highest fan concentration?

If it’s not enough to have the greatest number of dedicated fans, their concentration matters. Microsoft Windows has the highest share of its users that are solely focused on devices with the OS ecosystem. Almost one fourth (23%) of Windows users only use Windows devices. Apple’s iOS has nearly the same level of fandom. Twenty-one percent of iOS users only use iOS devices, whether iPhones or iPads. Android has the lowest level of concentration, with only 13% that only use Android devices.

Who are the fanboys and flexible?

At first glance, its notable that the single-OS users are older than multi-OS jugglers. The median age of a single-US user is 50 years and that of a multi-OS user is 41. This difference is supported by the dominance of Windows PC users and Android Smartphone/Tablet users – older than their multi-OS counterparts. The median age of Windows-only users is 55, a baker’s dozen more years older than the median age of 42 for those using Windows along with any other major OS.

Are platforms used differently?

The smartphone is the device of choice for nearly every type activity by multiple-OS users and single-OS users, with a few exceptions. Those who use Windows as their single OS primarily use a tower desktop for most of their activities. Also, those using multiple operating systems choose a tower desktop for their cloud storage/sharing activities.

Looking ahead

Although there are cross-platform apps that span OS ecosystems, many of them behave differently from platform to platform. Even small differences stymie users who are looking for a smooth experience across their devices, and especially doesn’t help those with a strong finger memory. Developers face a perennial Procrustean dilemma – either uniquely optimizing for each platform or offering an identical, if somehow substandard, experience.

High cross-platform compatibility is the nearest thing to the elusive “killer app” or “silver bullet”. OS ecosystems will be helped mostly by apps that offer enough functionality to entice users, yet not quite enough compatibility to lose the ecosystem’s unique cachet.

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.

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.

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.

Continue reading “How new are home notebooks? [TUPdate]”
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Apple & Samsung lead in multi-device loyalty [TUPdate]

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, November 29, 2018

Apple and Samsung have the highest share of their users actively using two or more of their devices.

This is based on the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2018 survey results. Among online adults in the US, more of Apple’s and Samsung’s users have two or more of the brand’s devices than only use one of their devices.

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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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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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