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.

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