Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, October 2, 2020
Home mobile notebooks are popular for keeping at home
Mobile computing means much more than being able to work or play while traveling. Despite travel restrictions and worldwide stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, mobile computers reign as the most popular home computer. Well over half (57%) of online adults use a home notebook, compared to 46% using at least one home desktop. MetaFacts surveyed online adults in six countries for the 2020 wave of TUP/Technology User Profile: the US, UK, Germany, China, Japan, and India. Notebook use is strongest in Japan (72% of online adults) and Germany (67%), and the lightest in the US (50%).
Notebook use is strongest in Japan (72% of online adults) and Germany (67%), and the lightest in the US (50%). In fact, the majority of home notebook computers have historically stayed at home. Many users choose a notebook computer over a desktop so they can take it with them in case they travel, for school, or if they may decide to bring it along to a coffee shop or library. However, the most mobility many notebooks may ever see is the trip from the kitchen to the living room.
Home notebooks get newer
Online adults around the world are using a notebook that is less than three years old on average. Apple has recently released updated Apple MacBooks and they are starting to get into the hands of users to update the installed base. Some users keep their notebooks longer than others. In Japan and Germany, online adults are actively using MacBooks for an average of 3 years (Japan) and 2.7 years (Germany). In contrast, online users in China and Japan are using newer home notebooks.
Google Chromebooks have the lowest age of home notebooks in the active installed base. This is primarily because the market has been slow to adopt Chromebooks. Some users are Google-averse or are not using other Google services such as Google Drive that could offer them some benefits of using a Chromebook. Other users prefer more feature-rich notebooks. Yet other users simply prefer Apple MacBooks.
Home notebooks are well-used
Home notebooks are used for a wide range of activities, from everyday web browsing to focused activities such as online banking and shopping.
It could be argued that with the Internet and a browser, notebooks are not fundamentally different whether they are running Windows, Apple, or Chrome OS. However, users do not see it that way, as shown in the bottom line of how they use their home notebooks.
Chromebooks, the most basic of notebooks, are being used for a narrower breadth of activities than either MacBooks or Windows notebooks. Fewer Chromebook users do the same activities other home notebook users regularly do. The relatively strongest activity among Chromebook users is shopping (36% versus 38% overall) and searching on health topics (30% versus 33% overall).
Part of these usage differences says more about the types of customers attracted to a Chromebook than about the hardware or operating system. In broad socioeconomic terms, Chromebooks are used by adults in lower socioeconomic groups, Windows used throughout all strata, and Apple used primarily by upper socioeconomic groups.
MacBooks are also not used for as wide a range of activities as Windows home notebooks. However, several activities are strongest among home MacBook users. With Apple’s tightly coupled ecosystem with iPhones such as Handoff, text messaging and phone calls rank higher than on Windows or Chromebooks. Also, managing home security/climate/lighting is stronger among MacBook users, although likely because of the stronger tech profile of its users and less so about only using Apple’s HomeKit.
Home Windows notebooks are used the most broadly. More Windows notebook users use their notebooks more than MacBook or Chromebook users for all the major activities except one – cloud storage of personal files.
Home notebooks will continue to be a mainstay for home technology devices for the foreseeable future. Although smartphones have started to be used for several activities, particularly for communication, they have far to go before fully replacing notebooks. Similarly, while online adults with tablets are using them for many of the same activities, tablet penetration still lags far behind notebook use.
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