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 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.