Category Archives: Cloud Storage

Clouds Forming (TUPdate)

Clouds Forming – A TUPdate by Dan Ness, April 13, 2017

The terms “free” and “unlimited” continue to entice consumers and employees alike, in offers of faster bandwidth to larger data storage. The promise of enormous, convenient, and always-available storage space is helping Google, Apple, and Microsoft attract and retain customers within their fold. It’s also helping Amazon and the many other dedicated Cloud Storage/Sharing services, even while many offerings may be risking consumer and corporate security and privacy.

Cloud Storage and Sharing services have tapped into core needs, reaching a high share of American adult consumers and employees. We Americans like our stuff, and we love convenience. As surely as we pile clutter into garages and self-storage facilities, we accumulate countless zettabytes of images, music, movies, pre-binged TV episodes, documents, among other files. We also want to know our stuff is safe and can be easily retrieved whenever and wherever we want it.

Employed adults are especially strong users of Cloud Storage and Sharing services. Sixty-nine percent of employees actively use Cloud Storage/Sharing services, and their use is not restricted to personal files and documents. Almost half (47%) of employees back up work files/documents online and 43% use cloud Storage/Sharing services for work files. Employees love the convenience of ready access, even while their employers may have policies and guidelines to protect and restrict the use of corporate files on personal devices or offsite.

Employers have mixed feelings about consumer-class Cloud Storage/Sharing services, while employees have charged ahead. About 15 years ago, I was moderating some focus group with IT Managers. We were measuring their responses to a unique device to back up files on their employee’s mobile PCs. It was almost funny to hear their inner conflicts. At first, the IT managers strongly stated that user files were essential to their employer and job, so must be backed up. They shared horror stories of execs having lost critical files, often at early morning hours in distant locations. Later in the discussion, however, these same IT managers claimed they didn’t have the time or budget to create backups of anything not on their managed servers. In a classic case of cognitive dissonance, they failed to recognize a strong need in their organization, or see any reasonable solution.

Operating System Domination

Dominating technology markets requires an ever-expanding footprint. No longer limited to having one’s customers use the same brand or operating systems family across one device type, tech market dominance requires customers to adopt ecosystems and offerings spanning devices, software, services, media.

Cloud Storage/Sharing is proving to be one way to build dominance. There is a strong association between the number of devices with a given operating system family and the primary operating system of the device primarily used for Cloud Storage/Sharing activities.

Connected Adults using an Apple OS device (iOS, MacOS) as their primary Cloud Storage/Sharing device use the largest number of Apple devices. With an average (mean) number of 2.9, this is more than three times the number of these user’s number of Windows devices and nearly six times as many Google devices used for any activities.

There’s a similarly positive, although weaker, relationship for Windows and Google devices. Users mostly choosing a Google OS (Android, Chrome) device for Cloud Storage/Sharing activities have a higher average number of Google devices than Windows or Apple devices. Users primarily using Windows OS devices for Cloud Storage/Sharing use more Windows than Google or Apple devices.

Device Types

Across all types of consumers – employed or not – 58% of Connected Adults use any of their devices for Cloud Storage/Sharing services. Home PCs are the most popular device, used for these services by 39% of Connected Adults.

Smartphones and Tablets are the 2nd and 3rd most-used devices. Cloud Storage/Sharing services help users get access to files on devices which don’t have any removable memory, including access to a USB flash drive or hard disk, and an effective substitute for files attached to emails.

The broadest users, those who use the largest number of Cloud Storage/Sharing activities, use the services at nearly the same levels across each of their many devices. Nearly twice as many use their Home PC for 4 or more Cloud Storage/Sharing activities than only use 1-3 activities, 25% to 13%, respectively. Similarly, the broadest users are the majority of users for those using Smartphones, Tablets, or Work PCs.

Key Activities

Of the most common Cloud Storage/Sharing activities, backing up personal files is the most widely used activity. Forty-three percent of Connected Adults regularly do this.

It’s hard to beat the convenience of an Internet-connected backup. Removable hard drives and USB flash drives are also easy to use, yet can be misplaced, fail, or not be at hand when wanted. Each of these offer the benefit of physical security, unlike data which is stored offsite. However, most nontechnical users don’t feel the need for heightened security and rely on the security methods of their cloud storage companies.

Cloud services also offer unlimited size, depending on the service and subscription. This makes it easier for users to enjoy the services as convenient places to access their files from their various devices and locations.

Although many Cloud Storage/Sharing services are consumer-class, and may not be sanctioned by the user’s employer, using them for work files is a widespread activity. Backing up work files/documents online is regularly done by one-third (34%) of Connected Adults, and in turn by 69% of employed or self-employed adults.

Activities by Device

Home PCs have the highest share of users across all types of cloud storage/sharing activities. Smartphones being used for Cloud Storage/Sharing of personal files, at 18% of Connected Adults, is only slightly behind the number who use Home PCs for this. The same activity is the leading one for Tablets. For users of work PCs, the top activities are for work files and documents, and less so for personal ones.

Key Users of Cloud Storage/Sharing Activities

There are 74 million most-active Cloud Storage Sharing users, who regularly do 4 or more activities. They have some unique characteristics.

Employees in several industries stand out with usage rates of double or nearly-double the national usage rate of 34% of Connected Adults. Within the Construction Industry, usage includes 72% of Connected Adults. This makes sense when you consider that each step from design through building can benefit from quick mobile access to plans, images, and materials.

Three key employee roles stand out as being especially strong in their usage levels. IT/IS, Executives, and Specialists all have 60% or more of their numbers actively using a broad set of these activities.

Demographically, younger males (age 25-44) have usage rates of 62% or higher. Older millennials of any gender also have high usage – 59%.

In contrast, there are several segments where there are a small number of hardy users, outnumbered by their contemporaries. For example, among older adults and retirees, while there are very active users, their usage levels range from 4% for the Silent+Greatest Generation (age 71+) to Baby Boomers (age 52-61) at 14%.

Looking ahead

Human needs do not change quickly. Technology offerings change much faster, in efforts to meet those needs. I don’t expect consumers to suddenly tidy up their collections of unwanted files. Similarly, I don’t expect employees to suddenly fall into compliance with their employer’s guidelines and restrictions for Cloud Storage/Sharing services.

Instead, I expect consumers to continue to amass their collections of digital items, chasing ever-larger spaces. This, in turn, will continue to pressure demand for ever-faster transfer speeds and data plans to be able to maintain ready access to their collections.

Despite privacy and employer’s compliance and security concerns, the majority of consumers and employees will continue to expand their usage and reliance on Cloud Storage/Sharing services. Independent pure play services such as Box and Dropbox are likely to feel the squeeze of market concentration that comes as major players broaden their offerings to deepen their customer footprint. The pressure will come from many directions – device manufacturers, software developers, ISPs, Telcos, and media conglomerates. While these variously compete or cooperate to gain control over consumer’s files and data, consumers themselves will continue their amassing and accumulation.

The days of personal data are growing fewer. That which is offline and stored locally is destined for the junk heap, or at least the garage or storage facility.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.
This TUPdate was based on results in the TUP Activities Chapter.

 

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Filed under Cloud Storage, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Usage Patterns

Device Primacy and OS – What we Hold Near (TUPdate)

Device Primacy and OS – What we Hold Near – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, January 18, 2017

Primacy. The first device you reach for, the one you stay near, the one you rely on. You might think that it’s the Smartphone, and that’s correct for many, but not all. For many activities and market segments, PCs and tablets dominate. A user’s activity focus affects which devices they choose most often, as does their operating system collection, among other factors.

Primacy by OS Family

All-Apple and all-Windows users are living in different worlds – as they have strikingly different preferences for their primary devices.
Among Apple-only users, Smartphones are the primary device for most types of activities. The PC (Mac or MacBook in this case) is their primary device for cloud storage/sharing and for search and information-related activities. Half (50%) of these adults using only Apple iOS or MacOS devices (no Microsoft Windows or Google Android or ChromeOS) do most of their cloud storage/sharing activities on a PC, and just under one-third (32%) primarily use a Smartphone.

In contrast, among Windows-only users, the PC is strongly the primary device for every major type of activity. Smartphones are only ranked second for productivity/personal and graphics/images activities. A tablet is the second choice for the greatest number of activity types – cloud storage/sharing, search/information, shopping, and social networking.metafacts-device-primacy-primary-secondary-device-2017-01-18_17-08-39

Apple’s iPad doesn’t rank as a second device for any type of activity among Apple-only users. This low level of primacy may seem surprising given that penetration of iPads is higher than average among this Apple-loyal segment. Sixty-one percent of Apple-only users regularly use an Apple iPad, more than double the national rate of 29%. This primacy analysis doesn’t mean Apple-only users aren’t enjoying their iPads – simply that they’re lower on the list of devices they choose for a wide range of activities.

Devices and Primacy
metafacts-device-primary-summary-170113
Across the entire base of connected adults, the PC is the leader for nearly every type of activity. The Swiss Army Knife broad nature of PCs continues its appeal. Smartphones only lead PCs for communications and graphics/imaging activities. Many of the specific activities in these two categories are strongly mobile – making phone calls, staying in touch, and taking and sharing photos.

OS Family

Connected Devices are dominated by three operating systems families – Microsoft Windows, Apple’s MacOS and iOS, and Google’s Android and Chrome OS. The base of Windows, once exclusively dominant, is well-overlapped by Apple and Google. The majority of users are living a multi-OS lifestyle, juggling more than OS family. The two largest OS combinations are nearly equal in market size. Just over one-fourth (26%) of users use connected devices running Windows and Google, and none with an Apple OS. Another fourth (25%) have Windows and Apple devices, with none as Google.metafacts-device-primacy-2017-01-12_16-25-15

Profile highlights of OS Family groups

It might be assumed that Apple-only users are early adopters while Windows-only users are laggards, partly explaining why they might choose different devices as primary or secondary. This is only partly true. The Windows-only users do include many tech laggards and the late majority, with 38% being the last of their age group to have first used a PC, mobile phone, or tablet. However, the Apple-only users aren’t especially early adopters, as 32% meet that definition, which is slightly less than the 33% nationwide who also do. There are other characteristics that set them apart.
Windows-only users are the oldest of the major OS family groups, on average 10 years older than every other group. They also include the smallest share of full-time employees, highest share of low-income households, and lowest average number of devices.metafacts-device-primacy-user-profile-highlights-by-os
Apple-only users have the highest share of younger millennials, have relatively high incomes, although are middling with respect to tech early adopters and laggards.
The jugglers of all three OS are the youngest, high incomes, more devices in use, and have the highest share of tech early adopters.

Activity types, primacy, ages and tech spending

Primacy of device by activity also varies with respect to the user’s age and consumer tech spending on devices and services. Younger adults aren’t necessarily the biggest tech spenders, nor are Smartphone users. In fact, those who primarily use their PCs for social networking or image/graphics activities are the biggest tech spenders and older than those who mostly use Smartphones for those activities.metafacts-device-primacy-age-device-spend-2017-01-18_12-36-08

The average age of adults who use a PC for the majority of their image/graphics activities – from managing photos to creating presentations – is 44, nearly five years older than those whose primary image/graphics device is a Smartphone. The graphics PC group also spends more than $1,450 per year more than Smartphone-focused users. Similarly, PC-focused Social Networkers are more than 8 years older and spend $730 more per year on consumer tech devices and services than their Smartphone counterparts.

Looking ahead

We expect tablets to continue to languish as a minor device for most users and most activity categories. As more 2-in-1 and convertible notebooks emerge and grow in acceptance, they will continue to relegate tablets to secondary or tertiary use.
Smartphones will continue their market penetration, replacing the basic cell phone among the last stalwart holdouts. Whether the last new Smartphone adopters will choose to go with Android or Apple Smartphones will set them on a course strongly affecting their next PC and tablet purchase. It’s most likely they will choose Google Android since this segment is more price-sensitive and less tech-savvy than average.
PCs will continue their gradual decline from primacy, to be replaced by Smartphones. Within PCs, there will be a broader division between the activity profiles for desktop and mobile PCs. We expect desktop PCs to continue their broad primary and secondary use, due to inertia and the as yet unmatched broad capabilities of PCs. Mobile PCs, however, while pressuring tablets, will themselves feel the strongest pressure from Smartphones as their broad usefulness continues to expand.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. This TUPdate is based on the TUP Life Stage section, which is within the TUP 2016 User Profile Chapter.

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Behaviors and Activities, Cloud Storage, Communication, Desktops, Devices, Entertainment, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Shopping, Smartphones, Social Networking, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Video calling

Footloose and ad-free – a new classic melody?

Digital Music Listening – by Dan Ness
Pleasure or pain? Attraction or avoidance? These are some tradeoffs consumers make as they choose how to use their tech devices and services, and music is a major part.

Consumers love music and have more listening options and platforms than ever. The evolution of digital music listening continues to transform the recording, advertising, and tech industries, and the changes aren’t over. At this point, the net effect is a larger than ever base of active music fans and listeners, and one that is engaged in discovering both the new and old. Many consumers are also being trained that advertising is something they can pay to avoid – whether for their music, TV, or news.

Music streaming services such as Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify have disrupted influence, control, and the flow of royalties and fees between listeners and artists. At the same time, the total audience had broadened beyond few passionate fans, and younger generations are discovering both classic and new artists. There’s new life in the long tail of older and obscure recorded music.tdmusic-stream-local-by-device-2016-12-01_13-08-02

Accessibility and ease of use has substantially increased the base of music listeners. This has beneficial long-term effects for both the music and tech industries, and perhaps less so for advertising.

Digital music listening is widespread – being a regular activity of three quarters (76%) of connected adults, whether through portable MP3 players, music services, players on Smartphones, PCs, or Tablets, or often across more than one of these.

Half of connected adults listen to music locally downloaded to their PC, Tablet, or Smartphone. A larger number – 57% – listen to music through a free or paid streaming service. Free service users outnumber those paying by 66%. More consumers are signing up for paid services as these services experiment with additional features and family plans. Avoiding advertisements is one reason listeners choose the paid plans. Use of Ad-Blocking software by listeners to streaming music services is 20% to 40% higher than average, with Smartphone ad blocking rates relatively stronger among listeners.tdmusic-adblocking-rates-2016-12-01_16-38-10

Listening levels varies by device type. Smartphones outnumber PCs and Tablets in the number of active listeners, and has also surpassed portable MP3 players, which are being actively used by 27% of Connected Adults. Al though music-listening apps are simple enough to add to Smartphones, many listeners still prefer a separate device that is tuned to one task – mobile music listening.

Digital music listening is skewed towards younger adults, while a few older adults cling to their turntables to play vinyl albums. Although Millennials (age 18-35) make up 39% of Connected Adults, they are nearly half (49%) of those listening to music on their connected devices, through streaming services, or using digital music players.tdmusic-music-listeners-by-age-group-2016-12-01_14-43-12

Apple’s iTunes and iPod market entry fifteen years ago is still paying dividends for Apple, with Apple notebook users being 22% more likely than average to be listening through a connected device or standalone player, and 30% more likely than average to be using a music service.

Otherwise, music listeners don’t favor one type of connected device over any other for their other non-musical entertainment activities. Fun is big across their collection of Smartphones, Tablets, and PCs. Instead, entertainment is important in all that they use. Music listeners are 32% more likely than average to be using the broadest number of entertainment activities.

Household technology spending is somewhat higher among music listeners. Annual spending for digital music listeners is 11% higher than among average connected adults. However, spending on digital content is much higher than average. Those who use music services spend 40% more than average consumers on digital content such as music and eBooks.tdmusic-tech-spending-2016-12-02_09-04-39

Looking ahead, we expect continued widespread music listening. Consumer habits change slower than their dances between services and platforms. Most future growth will come from within the current base as they spread their usage across their devices and move to paid plans. Less growth will come from first-time listeners. Also, we expect further market disruption for pure music services and advertisers. Social networks will likely seek ways to further leverage their many interconnected users and more deeply integrate music sharing into their services. The growing anti-advertisement sentiment may continue as consumers continue to see value in spending a few nickels to avoid what they see as disturbances to their musical reveries.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). Trend information is based on prior waves. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.

The TUP 2016 Wearables, Hearables, Listening, and Speaking Chapter details music listening devices, services, and activities, wearables and other key analysis points. The TUP 2016 Consumer Electronics Chapter drills down into a comprehensive collection of devices and services in active use.

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Filed under Cloud Storage, Desktops, Entertainment, Market Research, Notebooks, Smartphones, TUP 2016, TUPdate

Trends in Device Juggling (TUPdate)

Trends in Device Juggling: The Increasingly Active Smartphone, Persistent PC, and Late-Blooming Tablet – Dan Ness, October 20, 2016

We’re using more of our connected devices, and we’re getting more out of them. Looking deeper, some groups of Americans are expanding their collections while others are contracting.

The growing device number trend goes against one common meme – that “the PC is dead”. On first glance, only viewing the measure of devices per each connected adult, PC usage is flat. That shows that instead of PCs being replaced by Tablets or Smartphones, people are expanding their collections of actively used devices.metafacts-td1610-growing-device-collection-2016-10-19_16-35-10

There’s also something else going on. This top-line view may appear to show that “everyone” is using more devices, and as I’ll show later, that’s not the case. Some users have a more mobile profile while others are happily sedentary.

Both Desktops and Notebooks are a stable replacement market. Market demand is largely based on replacing older technology.

Tablets, although selling at high volumes in previous years, were in their earliest years isolated to a small niche segment busily replacing one after the other. Some shipments-based analysis missed the fast replacement cycle and misled some early analysts into believing these tablets were all being actively used and thereby increasing the installed base. Only in 2014 did penetration measurably broaden, and more importantly, so did the breadth of their active usage.

Smartphones have been for many years subsidized by carriers and replaced at the end of a subscriber’s contract. However, as subscribers have increasingly moved to contract-free use, we are seeing many replace their smartphones more quickly than others. The overall per capita average has increased as penetration has broadened.

Where the Activities Are

It’s not enough to simply have a device. What matters is whether it is actively used or not. The Smartphone is the most broadly used connected device, being actively used for more types of activities than any other connected device. This has been true since 2014. Tablets are only recently starting to expand their breadth of use in a more serious way, challenging the Notebook’s position as the 2nd-most broadly used device.

This measure is based on the breadth of activities by device type. The MetaFacts TUP survey includes an extensive range of activities, from shopping and entertainment to communication and productivity.

The Shifting Activity Emphasis
Looking more deeply, these two factors taken together tell a similar, although stronger, story. Mobile devices form the bulk of actively used devices. Tablets are increasing in number and usefulness, and based on their penetration and breadth of use, are now on par with notebooks. Desktop PCs continue to be both widely used and broadly useful, so should not be discounted as a powerful and persistent, if withering, force.metafacts-td1610-shifting-activity-emphais-2016-10-19_16-35-10

To determine the activity emphasis, we combined the per capita device type usage with the profile of each device’s activity levels. In this analysis, Smartphones can be seen as the powerhouse they’ve become. With both increasing penetration and broadening activity, the activity emphasis continues to grow for Smartphones.

The Preferred Combinations
Looking at per-capita or penetration analysis is a good starting point, and yet obscures some important differences and shifts in the market. Drilling down into the TUP data reveals more important patterns. First, having many devices is popular, not by many but by a large segment. The most-preferred combination of devices involves using four or more devices: two types of PCs: a Desktop and a Notebook, a Tablet, and either a Smartphone or Basic feature phone. This combination is currently used by nearly one-third (31%) of adults.

The second-most popular combination is a PC of any kind and a Smartphone. This represents nearly one-fifth (18%) of users.metafacts-td1610-popular-combinations-of-devices-2016-10-19_16-35-10

The third-most popular combination is used by nearly as many adults as the previous combination – 16%. This includes a Tablet, a Desktop PC, and either a Smartphone or Basic Feature phone.

One small combination worthy of note is one without a PC. These hardy and creative users have found a way to function with only a Tablet and a mobile phone – either a Smartphone or a Basic feature phone. While this group is very small – at 6% – it bears watching. It represents a possible approach for those wishing to be even more mobile than before. This group had more members a few years ago. In 2013, 11% of adults had this combination, and then migrated to other device combinations. At that time, many were new to technology use and started with this combination and then added a PC. However, this year both Microsoft and Apple have advertised their Tablets as PC replacements, and this group of users now includes those who have answered that call.

Leapfrogging into the Future
When looking into and creating the future, it’s vital to deeply understand the present. Consumers begin where they are. They don’t make choices in a vacuum and instead are strongly impacted by their current product collection. This pattern is a key element in the custom forecasting work we do.metafacts-td1610-device-trail-step-1-2016-10-19_16-35-10

Buyers have a strong disposition to follow a chain of events to get from point A to point B. Their choices are strongly affected by their current devices, ecosystems, activities, and habits. For example, while in 2013 18% of Connected Adults used a basic cell phone, desktop or notebook PC, and no Tablet, this combination dwindled to 9% while many users upgraded from their basic cell phone to using a Smartphone. The combination many moved to – a Smartphone, desktop or notebook, and no Tablet – today includes 18% of adults.metafacts-td1610-device-trail-step-2-2016-10-19_16-35-10

Similarly, the richest collection of devices has grown from being one of the least popular to being the most popular. The previously small group having a Tablet, Notebook, Desktop, and either a Smartphone or basic feature phone grew from 8% in 2013 to be 31% of adults. Many of these previously used everything except a Tablet.metafacts-td1610-device-trail-step-3-2016-10-19_16-35-10

The trend is not as simple as more devices being used. Many users are using fewer devices by choosing to use one type of PC – a desktop or a notebook. This is for many different reasons. While some users prefer the mobility of a notebook, others are moving to a more sedentary profile and eagerly shift to an all-in-one integrated PC design.

The Road Ahead

Looking ahead, we anticipate a gradual flattening in the overall average number of devices that people use. Desktops and Notebooks taken together will continue to dwindle in activity emphasis with some users preferring one form factor over the other. The growing acceptance of high-end gaming Desktops and Notebooks will boost the venerable PC’s position among the small but growing niche of hard-core PC gamers. The reemergence of highly-affordable and well-configured All-in-One integrated PCs will attract more casual users who otherwise would be complacently comfortable with what they have. Positioning by tablet makers from Apple to Microsoft with boost the broader use of Tablets as PC replacements beyond any gains earned from lengthening user experience.

Furthermore, new PC form factors will capture the imaginations of the design-oriented with newly shaped devices such as the speaker-shaped HP’s Pavilion Wave. Also, we’ll see further adoption of very small form factor PCs such as the Apple Mac Mini or HP Elite Slice.

Some day the device will disappear. It may sound like science fiction. In the not-too-distant future, we’ll see the beginning of the slow death of devices. These will be extensions of products and services such as today’s Amazon Echo or Dot. A person’s voice, face, or token will establish identify and allow them to use any of a wide range of microphones or cameras throughout their homes, cars, workplaces, or public places. With these connected to a high-speed network, extensive computing power needn’t be local. For this to happen in any sizable way, beyond technical hurdles there are still many factors to be addressed, from privacy and security to how information will be displayed or spoken in a useful way. The Echo’s current penetration below 2% is only the first step in a very long journey.

Well before a deviceless future comes about, though, consumers will continue to get more our of their devices. They will continue their momentum of broadening their activities with each of their many devices, regardless of size or shape.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). Trend information is based on prior waves. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.

The TUP 2016 Devices Chapter details device combinations, as well as device primacy, OS Ecosystems, brand footprint, and other key analysis points. In particular, see the table set [490 UNITS x COMBO].

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Behaviors and Activities, Cloud Storage, Communication, Convertibles, Desktops, Devices, Entertainment, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Operating systems, Shopping, Smartphones, Social Networking, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Usage Patterns, Video calling

LinkedIn – what Microsoft gets, doesn’t get, and what’s ahead (TUPdate)

Microsoft recently (June 13, 2016) announced it would be acquiring LinkedIn, the popular professional social network.

New MetaFacts research confirms that LinkedIn’s active members are indeed an attractive demographic, and yet there are headwinds ahead for Microsoft. Our recent Technology User Profile survey of over 10,000 respondents span the US, UK, France, Brazil, and China.

An attractive demographic

Active LinkedIn members stand head and shoulders above the average connected adult professional. In the US, they are 1.4 more likely than average to be employed full-time, and 1.6 times more likely than average to be a college graduate. They are also unique in their employment role, being 1.5 times as likely to be working in Marketing/Communications or in IT/IS, 1.4 times as likely to be a Specialist (e.g., design, engineering), 1.3 times a likely to be a contractor or IT Consultant, and 1.2 as likely to be an Executive or in an HR-related role. A similar pattern holds for the UK, France, Brazil, and China.

Microsoft’s ready access to this important population spells many opportunities for Microsoft, if managed well. With a service relying heavily on user-provided content, and with its members showing a high degree of sophistication, education, and strength, member trust and satisfaction will be especially vital to LinkedIn’s future.

Active Ad Blockers

To the extent Microsoft’s strategy involves increased advertising to LinkedIn members, it faces an existing and growing challenge. LinkedIn members are some of the world’s most advertising-averse. Forty-three percent of active US LinkedIn members use an Ad Blocker on at least one of their connected devices – PCs, Tablets, Smartphones – and in many cases have Ad Blockers on all of them. That is 1.3 times higher than the rate among the average connected adult. This is similar around the world – ranging from 1.1 to 1.5 times higher than average among active LinkedIn members in the UK, France, Brazil, and China.

Microsoft will need to continue to maintain the trust that active LinkedIn members have come to rely on. It’s possible they will whitelist ads on LinkedIn. It’s not as if LinkedIn has been specifically targeted by its members, it’s simply that its members are well above average in the practice of blocking ads across their devices. Adblocking has already been a significant challenge for media giants from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal as technology users increasingly take control over their experiences.

Apple-endearedApples and Apples

If part of Microsoft’s strategy is to encourage LinkedIn’s active members into (or back into) the Windows ecosystem, then it has a trend to reverse. LinkedIn’s active members are well-endeared and engaged with Apple’s devices and ecosystem. In the US, they are 1.8 times as likely as the average connected adult to be using four Apple OS devices, 1.5 times as likely to be using three, and 1.3 times as likely to be using two. Furthermore, LinkedIn’s members are 1.6 times as likely to be using an Apple mobile PC, 1.4 times as likely to be using an iPad, and 1.3 times as likely to be using an iPhone. This similar pattern holds true in the UK, France, Brazil, and China.

The Microsoft Graph

Major workplace activities used by active LinkedIn members per MetaFacts

Major workplace activities used by active LinkedIn members per MetaFacts

There’s another climb ahead for Microsoft – LinkedIn’s active members are already well on board with many of Microsoft’s types of professionally-oriented offerings, whether from Microsoft or competitors. So, growth ahead will be incremental, and less about mass introduction into new ways of working. With respect to these key workforce activities, this acquisition might be seen as a defensive retrenchment to hold off further encroachment by the likes of Google. At present, LinkedIn’s active US members are 1.8 times as likely as the average connected adult to already be using one of their connected devices to participate in a web-based group meeting, collaborate on work files, or create work graphics/presentations.

Other risks

Microsoft faces other risks. Imagine how a Google, Apple, or other leading-tech HR executive might consider Microsoft’s unprecedented access to their employees and projects. Any of Microsoft’s direct competitors are likely to have concerns about the depth and details Microsoft will have access to with the richness already in LinkedIn. Although Microsoft will undoubtedly take steps to reassure companies that their data is being held secure and not used directly for its own gain, trust will be a key concern for competitors. Some will likely step up their policies to prohibit or discourage user participation on LinkedIn.

The view ahead

At MetaFacts, where we directly measure active market demand, we contend that people matter first. If the members of LinkedIn feel their trust might be compromised, they may flee. Worldwide, there isn’t a single professional social network anywhere near the size or scope of LinkedIn. Rival xing has solid footing in German-speaking countries, while Viadeo is especially strong in France. Potentially, country-specific or language-specific competitors could grow, offering an independent haven for professional social networking. Instead of switching, members may trim their profiles, limit their participation, or simply cancel and close their profile.

Microsoft will need to reactivate the membership. In disclosures shared in the acquisition announcements, LinkedIn shared that of their reported 433 million members, 104 million were active within the prior month. This means less than one-fourth (24%) of its members are currently active. This low activity rate is the lowest of nine major US sites: Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Also, membership growth has increased faster than the share of members which are active, further highlighting the decline in member activity. Microsoft’s resources and support may help reverse those trends.

Source

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary from the Technology User Profile survey of adults throughout the US, UK, France, Brazil, and China. The results are based on a multi-country survey of over 10,000 representative respondents conducted by MetaFacts. Current TUP subscribers can obtain additional analysis and supporting datasets at a substantial discount. Technology companies who want to know more about their current or future customers can contact MetaFacts to learn how to subscribe to the rich resources of Technology User Profile.

 

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