Category Archives: Information and Search

Smartphones are workhorses [MetaFAQs]

About MetaFAQs

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. They are drawn from the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile datasets, the latest research developed through surveys. TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 is in its 38th continuous year.

Current subscribers to TUP may request answers like these through their inquiry service, the online interactive tool, or the TUP datasets. This gives the ability to drill down more deeply into other segments, services, or products.

On request, interested research professionals can receive complimentary updates through our periodic newsletter. These include MetaFAQs – brief answers to frequently asked questions – or TUPdates – analysis of current topics in the technology industry. To subscribe, contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Communication, Information and Search, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Smartphones, TUP 2019, TUP 2020, Work-related activities

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.

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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

Home PC Trends – Highlights from TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 – US

Home PCs are very much alive and being well-used. Home PC usage rates are stable, both in overall penetration and in the number being used.

Nearly all online American adults regularly use a home PC, yet they see them differently. Younger Americans see them as adding to their entertainment, while for older adults it helps them get things done, communicate, and shop. Home PCs have evolved from being a primary focus of American technology life to being one of many devices. Usage patterns and form factor choices vary; by user age, household composition, choice of OS ecosystems, and other factors.

This MetaFacts Highlights Report looks at the major trends in home PC usage in the US and examines how users have changed in both their levels of home PC use and activities. Also, it examines PC trends with respect to the broadened use of alternative devices. Further, it investigates differences by user age, presence of children, OS of other devices, and other factors.

The source for this analysis is MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile, with results from waves 2019 and earlier, all based on surveys of from 7,326 to 8,060 online adults in the US.

Highlights Report Contents

  • Home PC Penetration
  • Number of Home PCs
  • Number of Home PCs in use by User Age Group
  • Average Age of US Home PCs
  • Age of Home PC by User Age
  • Top 10 Activities for Home PCs
  • Top 10 Activities for Smartphones
  • Main Activity Gaps and Overlaps on Home PCs and Smartphones
  • Age-Skewed Home PC Activities
  • Number of Home PCs and Presence of Children
  • Smartphone, Home PC, and Tablet use by User Age Group
  • Home PC Operating Systems
  • Home PC Form Factors by Brand
  • Home PC Form Factor by User Age Group
  • Home PC OS Ecosystems of Connected Devices
  • Average Age of Home PCs by Brand
  • Home PC Activities by Brand
  • Number of Home PCs by Brand
  • What’s Ahead for Home PCs

How to obtain the results

  • Current subscribers to TUP/Technology User Profile may request the full Highlights Report, supporting TUP information used for this analysis, or even deeper analysis
  • For example, clients may request similar results outside the US, or within your chosen market subset
  • For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts
Activities for Smartphones and Home PCs – identifying gaps and overlaps

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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Communication, Desktops, Entertainment, Households, Information and Search, Market Research, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUP Highlights Report, TUPdate

Digital Publication Readership – To Be Saved by Apple News+? [TUPdate]

Magazine and newspaper writers envision a world of digitally-connected readers hanging on their every word. Despite the ubiquity of connected devices, from smartphones and PCs to tablets, that’s not currently the case. Fewer than half of online adults regularly read a magazine, newspaper, or periodical using any one of these connected devices. Also, while Apple’s customers are more active digital readers than most, Apple’s News+ service is being launched into a chilling headwind. This is based on results from our TUP/Technology User Profile survey of 14,273 adults across five countries.

Only in India and China do the majority of online adults regularly use any of their devices to read periodicals. In the US, UK, and Germany, this rate is nearer to four-tenths of online adults.

Active readers are appearing to favor convenience over multi-device accessibility. Across the countries surveyed, nearly two-thirds of active digital readers do so with whichever of their devices is their primary device.

Also, it’s not as if even active readers do their reading across multiple types of devices. Instead, the net number of active readers is close to the sum of readers using their PC, tablet, or smartphone.

No single device stands out universally as the digital publication reading favorite. PCs are a favored reading device in the US, UK, and Germany. In China and India, slightly more choose smartphones over PCs.

The image of magazine readers sprawling on their couches, kicking back with their iPads to catch up on a beautifully graphical long read, only represents a small part of the market. Tablet news-reading is only done by a few. Across the five countries surveyed, only around one in ten online adults use a tablet for such reading.

Part of this single preferred-device approach may be due to the inconsistencies between publications across platforms. While some publications design for a large-screen experience, others aim for the smaller screens of a smartphone. Yet others haven’t seemed to do much aiming or development, seemingly settling with exporting PDFs of their printed pages.

Using connected devices to read subscriptions has sagged in the last year. Across all the countries surveyed, regular readership rates have dropped. The reduction has been most pronounced in India and China, dropping from 85% of online adults to 71% in India, and 65% to 53% in China.

Service such as Apple’s recently announced Apple News + may help to change that. Making subscribing easier through a simplified app and bundled price may just raise the number of active digital readers, if not also subscription rates. Because Apple’s service was launched to only run on an iOS or MacOS devices, this a subset of the entire market. However, this subset is sizable. As of mid-2018, TUP finds that Apple has 100.3 million adults in the US actively are using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, which is 46% of all online US adults. This rate is similar among online adults in China (50%), and lower in the UK (44%), India (35%), and Germany (23%).

Apple’s customers are above-active readers. Among Apple’s customers, there is a higher rate of actively reading digital publications than among the general population. Half (50%) of users of any Apple iOS or MacOS device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac) in the US regularly use a connected device to read digital publications. Across the UK, Germany, China, and India, the pattern is the same: more of Apple’s users are active digital readers.

Looking ahead

Services like Apple News+ will likely be good for Apple and moreover good for Apple’s customers. Since Apple’s customers are already above-average readers, we expect subscriptions to be strong. In addition to the revenue flow to Apple and publishers, it could help deepen the connection and loyalty Apple’s users have with its other offerings – services and devices alike.

On first glance, services like Apple News+ may not seem attractive to publishers. If they view their TAM as only around half to a quarter of online users (Apple’s current foot print is 50% in China, 46% in the US, 44% in the UK, 35% in India, and 23% in Germany) this might seem like a glass-half-empty approach. Were Apple enable Apple News+ to more platforms beyond iOS and MacOS, the next-largest active-reader platforms are Windows PCs and Android smartphones. While this would likely entice more publishers, it might threaten Apple’s exclusive experience within its platforms. Also, for these platforms, Apple may need to make extra efforts to fulfill its promise of subscriber privacy.

However, to the extent publishers consider such a service as bonus readership, this may entice them and others to join. Apple’s customer base continues to have a higher than average socioeconomic profile.

And, as Apple continues to roll out additional subscription services such as movies and TV, many customers will likely expand and deepen their connections and loyalty to Apple. Also, we expect more readers to return to reading as they discover the digital experience to be more enjoyable and straightforward.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the most-recent wave of TUP (Technology User Profile), the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th 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. This specific wave spanned the US, UK, Germany, India, and China. In the TUP survey, we identified the connected devices being actively used, from desktop tower PCs, to all-in-one, notebook, and convertible PC form factors, to tablets, smartphones and basic feature phones. For the four devices used most often, we asked respondents to choose from among 71 activities that they do most regularly with each device.

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 Behaviors and Activities, Desktops, Entertainment, Information and Search, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, Trends, TUP 2018, TUPdate

Which Activities Span Many Devices? [TUPdate]

So many of us have done it – started doing with our smartphone or tablet what we only formerly did with our PC. Are some activities so addictive or prevalent that people do them across their many devices? Based on our latest research, the answer is yes, and especially so for certain activities.

Nearly one-fourth (24%) of online adults around the world tap into their social networks on 4 connected devices, from among the many PCs, smartphones, and tablets they use.

This is based on the TUP/Technology User Profile 2018-Global survey, spanning 14,273 online adults across the US, UK, Germany, China, and India.

By contrast, certain activities are limited – being used more often on only one device. Making voice/video/web calls is mostly done on a single device, at 44% of online adults. Around one in three online adults also primarily use one device for the following types of activities: managing finances, photos, create/share videos, purchases, and reading.

What encourages or limits users to focus certain activities on fewer devices? Convenience and capability are key factors. Although desktop PCs can and do have webcams for video calls, they are less mobile and therefore less convenient than smartphones or tablets for unplanned calls or conferences. The same can be said for taking spontaneous photos or videos using cameras in ever-handy smartphones and tablets. Screen size and setting also have an impact. Comparison shopping benefits from the larger screens of PCs and tablets. Reading a book can be more enjoyable while sitting back with a tablet than sitting upright at a desktop PC.

The capability and preference gap

There is a perennial gap between what’s possible with a device and what people choose to do. For example, we still find few who regularly take photos with their tablets. In this specific case, social pressure has some impact as larger devices may block other’s views or at the least be less discreet.

Platforms from Facebook to Amazon and Spotify do their best to be widely present and highly available. Native apps typically offer a more stable, richer, and device-appropriate experience, further encouraging users to use them across their multiple devices. Meanwhile, device-makers continue to expand the capabilities of their devices to better accommodate and anticipate user demand.

Looking ahead

Our research shows that as users gain experience with tech products, they broaden their activities and simultaneously expand their use across the devices they regularly use. I expect users to continue demanding to do whatever they want with whatever device they have.

About this TUPdate
The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the most-recent wave of TUP (Technology User Profile), the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th 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. This specific wave spanned the US, UK, Germany, India, and China. In the TUP survey, we identified the connected devices being actively used, from desktop tower PCs, to all-in-one, notebook, and convertible PC form factors, to tablets, smartphones and basic feature phones. For the four devices used most often, we asked respondents to choose from among 71 activities that they do most regularly with each device.

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 Behaviors and Activities, Communication, Consumer research, Desktops, Devices, Entertainment, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Shopping, Smartphones, Social Networking, Tablets, TUP 2018, TUPdate, Usage Patterns, Video calling