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Work from home or stay at home – ready or not! (and supported or not) [TUPdate]

As a long-time information worker, remote worker, and road warrior, I’ve learned to be flexible, resourceful, and use technology to my advantage. Whether I’ve been crunching numbers or presenting results from a café in Paris, my office, home, or somewhere in between, I’ve carried an evolving assortment of tech devices so I can stay connected and work.

However, there are many people who haven’t had this experience, and may not be prepared or supported.

This TUPdate investigates several groups of consumers and workers who will soon be encountering changes in their use of technology devices and services. With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shifts taking place now, many are not technologically ready for a work-at-home or stay-at-home experience.

Although a home PC isn’t a requirement to get online, it’s still the most widely used and most-useful device for many activities.Chart comparing work activities by device type

Among one key group – information workers – one of the most tech-savvy and tech-reliant groups, a work PC is the cornerstone of their work activity. Even though most also have smartphones, home PCs, and tablets, there are only a few work activities done more often on any other type of device. Smartphones, despite the many apps developed for them and their constant presence, only surpass work PCs for making phone and video calls. Tablets, which are increasingly becoming PC-like (and not only because of Apple’s marketing), aren’t being used similarly to PCs for work activities.

Information workers are only one of several groups to stand out as not having home PCs and being the most able to benefit from them. For this analysis, I’ve used TUP/Technology User Profile to look at three groups:

  • Information workers – workers who have a work PC
  • Adult students – attending a college, university, or other learning institution full-time or part-time
  • Elders – age 55 or older

Information workers

Information workers as a group are the least ready to be working remotely. While some employers provide work notebooks that could potentially be used at home, most don’t. Forty percent of US information workers and 58% of German information workers are self-supported, having no work notebook but having a home PC. Even higher, 54% of US information workers and 65% of German information workers are unsupported information workers, having no work notebook.Size of key groups working or staying at home

While it’s possible that some employers will simply have employees bring their work desktops home for the duration of their time working at home, I expect that not to be widespread.

Students

A smaller share of students than information workers have no home PC. Among American students, this share (29%) is larger than among students in Germany. Although some assignments and online classes and may be conducted using a smartphone or tablet, I expect many will require the larger screens or horsepower of a PC. Tablets aren’t an immediate answer at hand: only 26% of students without home PCs use a tablet.

Elders

Elders are another group likely to remain at home. Although there are regional differences about the age level of persons mandated to remain at home, those requirements are changing quickly. For this analysis, I set the bar low for typical definitions of being an elder or senior – at 55 or older.

Within elders, I also investigated a particularly vulnerable group – elders living alone. This group is one of the most connected groups of all these groups, at least with respect to the penetration of home PCs. Only 5% of American elders and 2% of German elders don’t have a home PC.

Looking ahead

The conditions for COVID-19 pandemic are uncertain. I expect most employers to support their information workers with additional technology, even though historically that’s only been the case for the minority of employers.

For self-supporting information workers that already have a home PC, this employer support is most likely to come in the form of expanded software licensing to support employees that need special software to get their job done, and remote access software to allow employees to reach their office-located desktops, servers, or networks. In many cases, especially among larger employers or technically sophisticated employers, new support will include the requisite VPN and security software to help protect the employer’s confidential information. For those self-supporting information workers with home PCs that are too old or underpowered to support the employee’s needs, some employers may order and provide work PCs for their employee’s homes. Other employers may rely on the employees to personally obtain a home PC so the employee can continue to work.

For unsupported information workers that don’t have a home PC, I expect most employers to provide a work PC or to encourage or to reimburse their employees for a home PC. As for self-supporting information workers, additional software, connectivity, and likely printing capabilities will be needed as well.

This is a quickly changing time, and it’s currently unknown how long the stay-at-home/work-from-home provisions will remain in place. However, over the last two decades, technology users have shown a strong amount of habit energy and inertial. What they do with technology changes slowly, even while there are rapid shifts in the devices and services they use – and where they use them!

Inertia simultaneously saves and disrupts technological transformation. Scanners and printers with integrated scanners have been at the heart of the paper to digital change. So much that was paper is now electronic. The “paperless office” has been a hyped cliché for decades, and yet is truer with each passing year. Although electronic signatures have been legal for over 20 years in most countries, and digital copies are increasingly acceptable in many cases, the migration from paper to electronic lumbers along gradually. Consumers and businesses alike continue to need to convert hardcopy documents and images into electronic form.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Cloud Storage, Communication, Desktops, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Research, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate, Usage Patterns, Video calling

Scanners, scanning, and disappearing paper [TUPdate]

Inertia simultaneously saves and disrupts technological transformation. Scanners and printers with integrated scanners have been at the heart of the paper to digital change. So much that was paper is now electronic. The “paperless office” has been a hyped cliché for decades, and yet is truer with each passing year. Although electronic signatures have been legal for over 20 years in most countries, and digital copies are increasingly acceptable in many cases, the migration from paper to electronic lumbers along gradually. Consumers and businesses alike continue to need to convert hardcopy documents and images into electronic form.

Standalone Scanners Subsiding

Scanning is still alive, although standalone scanners are only being used by a relative few.

The regular use of a standalone scanner has sagged across a range of countries, as we found in research results from the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile survey. Our TUP 2019 survey of 11,625 respondents in the US, Germany, and China show that only a small percent of online adults use a standalone scanner.

There are a range of standalone scanners available, as distinct from the scanners included in MFP (Multi-Function Printers).  Standalone scanners with ADFs (automatic document feeders) are well-suited to converting large batches of documents into a digital form, either for archiving or for wider use in a new electronic form. Flatbed scanners are useful for incidental scanning. Specialized scanners, such as business card scanners, are also useful for specific tasks. All these types of standalone scanners are included within these numbers, reflecting their niche use.

Standalone neither young nor old

Younger generations, many referred to as digital natives, have not embraced standalone scanners. Neither are older adults the major users of paper scanners. The share of age 18-24 and 25-34 are effectively the same as among age 55-64 and 65 and older.

What the young do

Younger Americans – especially age 25-34 – have a unique scanning profile. As compared to any other age group, they are above average in using standalone scanners to scan personal documents, personal photographs, work documents, and work photographs. Americans age 55+ stand out in being well above average in scanning personal documents. These older are adults are also well below average in scanning personal photographs and work documents or photographs.

Difference of One or Many among Young and Old

Older Americans that use standalone scanners use flatbed one-document-at-a-time scanners at a much higher rate than younger Americans. While 78% of American scanner users age 65+ use a flatbed scanner, only 26% of adults age 18-24 do so. Instead, a higher share of younger adults use a multi-document scanner, with 61% of standalone scanners age 18-24 using one and 54% of age 25-34. Neither younger nor older Americans are primarily using a portable/business card scanner. Among these least-used devices, there’s a slightly younger skew.

More ways than one

Many online adults use computer printers for scanning, choosing either those with single-sheet platens or automatic document feeders (ADF).

Use of printers for scanning is more widespread than use of standalone scanners. Roughly ten times as many adults regularly use their primary printer for scanning as use a standalone printer. The percent of online adults in the US is 36%, 35% in China, and 46% in Germany. These rates are down somewhat from 2015 through 2019 in the many countries we surveyed.

Printer scanning for elders

When using a computer printer to scan, a much higher share of scanning is among older than younger Americans. Half (50%) of online Americans age 65 and higher use their primary printer to scan photos or documents. Among online Americans age 54 and younger, only 35% or fewer regularly use a printer to scan.

One at a time

Over three-fourths (78%) of Americans who scan using a printer only scan one document at a time. Almost half of that number, 37%, only scan multiple items using an automated document feeder. Another half of that number, 16%, regularly do both.

Looking ahead

The silent substitute competition for scanners is near at hand – smartphones. Although arguably smartphones don’t handle the highest demands for scanning, they’re more than adequate for many purposes. Archiving large batches of documents or photographs will continue to be a job for high-end standalone scanners. To take a quick scan of a document, though, to share with others, is well within the capability of nearly every smartphone, and that’s even before the use of specialized scanning or deskewing apps. Add smartphone apps like Microsoft Lens, CamScanner, or the many others that include OCR (optical character recognition) and most needs are covered well enough.

Yet another substitute for scanning is also silent – paperless statements. The majority of banks, brokerages, creditors, utilities, and other suppliers continue to encourage their customers to move from paper to electronic statements. Also, tax and other governmental authorities are increasingly digital, both sending and receiving documents electronically. This reduces the demand for customers to scan paper documents that they can simply download and send to whoever needs a copy.

These trends don’t mean that scanning will completely go away. In fact, most of the decline has already happened for scanner use and scanning with printers. These devices and activities have dropped to the realm of being a niche and are likely to remain so.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Graphics and Image, Market Research, Printers, TUP 2019, TUPdate

Samsung – American Customer Profile – TUPdate

Samsung has a strong number-two market position in the US, especially with smartphones, and has a distinctive customer profile from market leader Apple. This is based on our MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 survey and prior waves.

Samsung for the not-so-young

Samsung’s penetration is strongest among age 35-54, mostly spanning Generation X. One third or more of online adults this age are using at least one Samsung connected device: a phone, tablet, or PC. Of these devices, Samsung’s smartphones are in the most solid position. More than one in four online Americans use a Samsung smartphone, with Samsung’s highest penetration by age group at 28% of online Americans age 45 to 54.

Marketing penetration of Samsung’s tablets and PCs are among less than one in 10 Americans.

Samsung missing the young Americans

Samsung’s smartphones have yet to attract or dominate the most youthful American adults, which is Apple’s strongest suit. Where 39% of Apple’s iPhones are in the hands of American adults age 18 to 34, only 30% of Samsung’s are. Samsung is below the total national average in this respect, too, which is 35%.

Samsung for the not-so-busy

Samsung’s market penetration for its smartphones has declined among Americans using the greatest number of connected devices. Between 2018 and 2019, Samsung’s share dropped by 3 or more percentage points among users with 2, 3, 4, or 6 connected devices (phones, PCs, tablets, or game consoles). The only segment where Samsung gained is among those few Americans who only use one connected device.

Samsung’s Strong, Yet Sagging Share

Samsung has lost ground between 2017 and 2019, with its overall market penetration dropping or staying flat for its phones, tablets, and PCs. In the US, Samsung’s overall penetration has shrunk to 30% in 2019 and 34% in 2018 to 33% in 2017. The largest decline was in Samsung’s tablet penetration, which dropped nearly in half, from 11% in 2018 to 6% in 2019. This is due in part to Apple’s dominant market position with iPads. It is also a general retrenchment for tablets during a period when consumers have reduced the breadth of their tech device collection.

Samsung’s overall decline has been similar in China. In Germany, however, Samsung has effectively maintained its leading position.

Not Only Handsets

Smartphone subscribers choose more than a handset brand, also selecting their carrier. Verizon currently has the largest number of American subscribers, with 30% of online adults using a smartphone connected by Verizon with any smartphone brand. Verizon is followed by AT&T with 24%, T-Mobile with 13%, and Sprint with 8%. Among all these US major carriers, Apple’s iPhones dominate among their subscribers. Samsung is in a strong number-two position. Samsung’s share is three-fourths of Apple’s share with T-Mobile, one-half of Apple’s share on Verizon and Sprint, and one-third on AT&T.

Looking ahead

As the deployment of 5G makes its shaky rollout across the US, handset makers and carriers alike will need to tread lightly and deliberately. Those emphasizing 5G connections for subscribers without ample supporting coverage will lead to disappointment. On the other hand, those not incorporating 5G into their handsets run the risk of customers churning to other brands or carriers.

Samsung’s recent (February 2020) release of S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra smartphones emphasized their cameras and ability to capture and share high-resolution images and videos. However, users without a higher-speed connection or unlimited data plan are likely to have difficulty fully enjoying these capabilities. These phones include a MicroSD card slot, which will help address this issue to some degree.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Desktops, Devices, Mobile Phones, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate

The Second Life of Home PCs – TUPdate

Home PCs enjoy a longer life than in the hands of their original owners, as many are ultimately enjoyed by someone else. This is more strongly true in developed countries than in developing ones.

For each of the last five years, one in 9 home PCs in the U.S. active installed base were used/refurbished home PCs. In the UK and Germany, the rate has been similar. In three major developing countries – China, India, and Brazil – the rate is much lower. This is based on the most recent five waves of MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile, from 2015 through 2019, developed through surveys of 11,625 respondents in 2019 and similar sample sizes in other waves.

Home PC reuse rates like other tech devices

Home PCs aren’t the only used/refurbished tech devices in active use. Across the US, China, and especially Germany, basic cell phones/feature phones have a high share acquired from a prior user. At a similar rate to home PCs, 11% of US basic cell phones in active use are used/refurbished. In Germany, this rate is one in six, the highest rate among these countries. The lower rate (8%) in China can be attributed in part to the more recent adoption of smartphones as a user’s first mobile phone, so there are fewer feature phones available for reuse.

Tablets

Compared to home PCs, tablets have a lower rate of being used/refurbished. For Android tablets, one issue has reduced longevity – newer operating system versions and older versions and devices not being supported for long. Some tablet manufacturers have maintained a short service life, making used Android tablets less useful to a potential new owner. Apple has taken a different approach, extending the life of older iPads with an operating system that spans a wide range. Even with the latest version, iOS 13, released in 2019, Apple released a new fork for iPads named iPadOS which is backward compatible through earlier iPads such as iPad Air 2 (released in 2014).

Smartphones

Smartphones have lower reuse rates than home PCs, tablets, or basic feature phones. This is due to several factors. From the customer demand perspective, many smartphone users crave newer models, as manufacturers continue to innovate and entice customers to upgrade. Also, as carriers continue to update their networks, some older equipment is retired or deprecated, making affected mobile phones less useful.

Who uses the used?

There’s a strong economic factor at play dividing users of new and used/refurbished technology devices. The highest rate of used/refurbished home PC use is among currently unemployed Americans. In the US, this rate is 20% of the home PCs in active used by the unemployed. The used/refurbished home PC rate is also strong among homemakers and part-time employees. Unlike the unemployed, homemakers, or even part-time employees, a higher-than-average share of full-time employees use their home PCs for work-related activities, from creating presentations to being involved in group chats, web-based group meetings, and video calls.

Whose Home PCs lasts the longest?

The use of used/refurbished home PCs appears to be more related to country and culture than to the specific brand.

Dell has the highest rate of used/refurbished home PCs actively used by American adults, representing 12% of the Dell home installed base. Acer’s rate closely follows with 11%, and HP’s and Lenovo’s rates are 10%. In Germany, Dell also ranks highest, matching Lenovo, each with 14%. In China, the overall reuse rates do not vary strongly by brand.

Looking ahead

It’s unlikely we’ll see major changes in the way PC makers offer refurbished home PCs. For most manufactures, programs have been in place for years mostly to manage overstock and asset recovery of returned PCs, and less to spur demand among consumers for more used/refurbished home PCs. Apple is exceptional, in that it offers trade-in value for a wide range of their products, from iPhones and iPads to Macs. This is a prominent part of their positioning as being an environmentally aware technology maker.

Consumer demand is unlikely to change quickly. Consumers will continue to find a new home for their home PCs as they buy additional ones, either within their own families, neighborhoods, or friends.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Desktops, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate

Generational Wealth – in Tech Devices [TUPdate]

Millennials may be getting bad press for lagging in real estate and financial investments, but they’re well invested in tech devices. Millennials use the largest number of connected devices per capita, including more than the next-younger generation – GenZ. PCs are the major device for all generations, while tablets have tumbled in usage among younger adults.

This TUPdate shares a top-level view into generational differences – in their use of technology devices, and their financial net worth and assets. The results are based on TUP/Technology User Profile waves from 2014 through 2019 in the US, and the US Government’s Survey of Consumer Finances along with estimates from the Federal Reserve Bank. The US Federal Reserve Bank made headlines earlier this year when they released the latest DFA – Distribution of Financial Accounts.

GenZ settling down faster? Or Millennials hanging on?

Each successive generation has been using more devices than the one older, however that’s recently changed. When the first members of the GenZ generation (born 1997 and after) turned 18 in 2015, their average number of devices was the highest ever seen by any generation – 5.8 on average.

Since 2015, GenZ has bucked the trend of their elders by reducing their tech device usage faster than those slightly older. Beginning in 2017, GenZ use fewer devices than Millennials. It’s not only that GenZ reduced use, but also that Millennials are continuing to use more than most. From 2014 through 2019, American Millennials have used 20% more devices than the average American.

Overall drop in number of devices used

The year 2015 marked a turning point for connected devices in the US, as the national average number of devices in regular use by adults began consolidation. In 2015, online Americans used an average of 4.5 devices – smartphones, tablets, PCs, and game consoles. This has declined steadily each year with the current average in 2019 being 3.8.

This widespread reduction is due to many reasons. One major factor in consolidation is what people do with their devices. Although cross-platform and browser-based apps have been available for some time, we’re seeing users stretch beyond their habitually favored devices to slowly but steadily extend activities across more than single devices. With growth in spreading activities across devices, this in turn reduces the need to use as many. For example, while in the past many would primarily use a home desktop PC for online banking, a growing number have moved their banking to their tablets or smartphones. (For more details on these shifts, please see Smartphones Rise, PCs and Printers Float, Tablets Waver – User Trends)

PC reigns as essential

PCs continue as a bedrock device for all generations. However, they are a smaller share among GenZ than among older generations. 36% of the connected devices GenZ use are PCs, and this share rises with each generation, reaching almost half (46%) of connected devices used by the Silent and earlier generations. Smartphones are a solid second device among all generations and make up between 25% to 30% of devices in active use. Game consoles rank highest among GenZ and Millennials, versus tablets for older generations. And to the extent basic cell phones are being used by anyone, they are most firmly in the hands of the oldest generation.

Tablets recede among GenZ while elders get smarter

In 2015, the mix of devices by generation was like 2019 in most respects, with several crucial differences. Among GenZ, tablets were stronger and have since then faded to be replaced by wider PC use. The Boomer generation has nearly let go of their basic cell phones and moved to smartphones. Game consoles were just as youth-oriented in 2015 as in 2019 and are continuing in active use even as each generation ages.

American Millennial Tech Wealth

Most connected devices are in the hands of Millennials. 37% of total connected devices – mobile phones, PCs, tablets, and game consoles – are in the hands of millennials – American adults born between 1981 to 1996. This is far above the tech holdings of GenX and Boomer generations.

The share of devices nationally for Millennials and Gen Xers has not shifted significantly over the last five years. The share of tech devices among Boomers, meanwhile, has dropped. Some of this reduction is due to boomers leaving the workforce, and so no longer using employer-provided PCs.

Boomers and GenX are nearer to each other in size, as both are shrinking and yielding to younger generations.

Consumer Durables by generation

Looking more broadly beyond tech devices shows a similar but more delayed pattern. As Federal Government economists measure consumer durables, tech devices are only a fraction. Millennials show a growing share of American consumer durables as their numbers grow, but a much smaller share than their share of tech devices. Also, Baby Boomers and Silent and Earlier have a relatively larger share of consumer durables than tech devices.

Millennials are showing stronger and growing participation in the economy. Their share of consumer durables is still smaller than other generations. However, its growth is on par. Despite having higher debt levels than other generational groups, Millennials are continuing to buy tech and durable products.

The Federal Reserve Bank develops this information from the ongoing Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and Financial Accounts of the United States. (Note: The Fed does not yet include GenZ in this data.)

Net Financial Wealth by Generation

In one the most widely cited measures from the Fed’s results, net financial wealth, Millennials have the lowest financial net worth. Millennials, defined as Americans born between 1981 and 1996, have less net financial net wealth than any other generation. Net worth accounts for the value of assets above liabilities.

Looking ahead
Just as economic mobility doesn’t shift quickly, neither do habits around technology usage nor buying. Looking ahead, I expect Millennials to continue to lead in number of tech devices used and GenZ to have slightly less. As to device types, game consoles will continue to skew younger and are unlikely to reach much of a larger share of user’s devices than today’s levels. PCs will continue to be the major device among older adults, although falling out of top usage among GenZ somewhat.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basic cell phones, Demographics & Econographics, Desktops, Devices, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate