Category Archives: Consumer research

Inexorable Device Trends – Beyond the Niche, Fad, and Fizzle

Inexorable Device Trends – Beyond the Niche, Fad, and Fizzle – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, March 10, 2017

It can be exciting to see the hockey-stick charts, with everything up and to the right. It’s important to put the numbers into context, though, through a more grounded analysis of the active installed base. Yes, Apple’s long-climb into broader use of their triumvirate is substantial, Smartphones are quickly replacing basic cell phones, and PCs and Printers persist. Their market size confirms their importance.

We humans are wired to notice change. Our very eyes send more information about motion than background. While life-saving should tigers head our way, this capability can be our undoing if we miss gradual changes, like the slithering snake in the grass creeping towards us. Watching an installed base of technology has some parallels. For some, it can seem as if nothing is really changing even while important shifts are taking place.

For over 35 years, I have tracked technology usage trends and profiles, all calibrated by watching customers through surveys such as our Metafacts Technology User Profile. Among other truisms, I’ve seen that true technology trends aren’t sudden. Solid trends are the summation of the habits, preferences, and activities of millions of technology users. They’re inescapable, inexorable, and years in the making. Trends become truly important when they’ve spread beyond being a niche, fad, or fizzle, and reached beyond those first few early adopters.

In this analysis, I’m diving into several key broad dominant trends in technology device usage across American adults. In separate analyses, I’ll drill deeper into the next level of TUP data, revealing which market segments are making the most decisive changes. Continue reading

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Consumer research, Desktops, Devices, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Operating systems, Printers, Smartphones, Trends, TUP 2016, TUPdate

What is the penetration of home-owned computing devices? (MetaFAQs)

Mobile phones dominate home-owned connected devices as the ones used by the greatest number of U.S. adults. As of our MetaFacts TUP 2016 US survey, 87% of U.S. adults used a smartphone or basic cell phone that was home-owned. Slightly trailing mobile phones, 81% of adults use a home PC. Media tablets are a distant third place, at 63% of U.S. adults.

MetaFacts defines home-owned devices as those which were acquired with personal funds. As released in our other MetaFacts TUP research, a substantial share of U.S. adults also use employer-provided, self-employment, school-owned, public, or other devices which are owned by someone other than themselves.metafacts-mq0137-250-dev_key-2017-02-22_09-32-36

Within mobile phones, home-owned smartphones outnumber home-owned basic cell phones, with nearly two-thirds (72%) of U.S. adults using a smartphone and just over one-fourth (27%) using a basic cell phone.

Among home PCs, desktops and Microsoft Windows PCs dominate. Home notebooks have grown to reach almost half (49%) of U.S. adults. Although the tech-savvy consider Windows XP and Vista PCs to be passé and even dangerously unprotected from malware, 4% of U.S. adults are still actively using Home PCs with these operating systems. While adoption of tech products can often be rapid, retirement of older technology from the active installed base can take much longer than many may expect. Continue reading

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Consumer research, Convertibles, Desktops, Devices, e-Book Readers, Market Research, Market Sizing, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Statistics, Tablets, TUP 2016

Tablet-First. Is it a thing? (TUPdate)

Tablet-First. Is it a thing? – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, February 17, 2017

Which comes first – Smartphone? Tablet? Notebook? For a small and steadily growing segment, the tablet comes first as the primary connected device.

Over the last three years, the share of connected adults using a tablet as their primary device has expanded. In our 2014 wave of TUP, we found that 6% of adults were using a tablet as their primary device – before a PC, mobile phone, or game console. In TUP 2015, the Tablet-First rate had grown to 7% and by TUP 2016, reached 9%.MetaFacts-td1702-tablet-first-trend-metafacts-tup-2014-2016-2017-02-16_10-02-19

It’s not as if these Tablet-First users are only using a tablet. Among Tablet-First users, half (50%) use a Smartphone as their secondary device, followed distantly by a Tower Desktop (15%), Basic cell phone (10%), and Notebook PC (9%). Continue reading

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Filed under Consumer research, Entertainment, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Shopping, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate

Voice Assistants – now we’re talking! (TUPdate)

Voice Assistants, now we’re talking! – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, January 27, 2017

In the early 1980’s, one of my Apple Macs overheard me on a phone call and startled me by speaking “Wouldn’t you like to know?”. The Mac’s dialog box suggested I had asked “Macintosh, do you have an Easter Egg?” Evidently, I had triggered one of those hidden messages some programmers like to include for fun. That was quite a bit earlier than today’s quirky responses after asking Apple Siri certain questions such as “What does the fox say?” or asking Amazon Alexa “how much is that doggie in the window?”

Beyond answering quirky questions, voice assistants are expected to grow in capabilities and more importantly, to grow in broader market acceptance.

Voice interaction with tech devices is back in vogue again, and technology users are different than they were 20 years ago. At CES 2017, voice assistants got a lot of attention, especially with the many IoT devices announced that used Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa.

How many voice assistant early adopters are there?metafacts-voice-assistant-usage-rates-2017-01-27_15-28-45

The users of Amazon’s Alexa or Echo devices are currently few, while the users of voice assistants on other devices are many. As of mid-2016, 3.5 million US adults were actively using a voice-enabled speaker such as the Amazon Alexa or Echo. These are 1.6% of all Connected Adults, the universe of persons age 18 and up who have used a PC, Mobile Phone, Tablet, or Game console to browse the Internet in the previous 30 days.

The ability to control and interact by voice extends well beyond wireless voice-enabled speakers and includes Apple’s Siri, Google Now or Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana as used on PCs, Smartphones, and Tablets. This spans 75.5 million adults who regularly use their voice to control and interact with their devices. This equates to a 34.9% usage rate.metafacts-voice-assistant-usage-percent-rates-2017-01-27_15-28-45

Voice assistant usage on Mobile devices, specifically Notebook PCs, Smartphones and Tablets, are the largest group, number 61.1 million. Separately, these three platforms add to 73.6, indicating that these mobile users are using 1.2 of these devices. In other words, there is a moderate amount of overlap. This is important, because users of voice agents will likely want to choose one voice control platform. This will help them have an easier and more seamless experience so they won’t need to adapt themselves to fit each voice agent instead of the other way around.

Who are these chatty early adopters?

Users of voice assistants across any device stand out from average connected adults:

  • Respondent Demographics
    • Average age 37 – six years younger than the average connected adult
    • 54% are Millennials – age 18 to 35 – and 50% of older millennials (age 28-35) use voice control on any device
    • Use of voice-enabled speakers such as the Amazon Echo is strongest among adults age 25 to 44, and less so for 18-24 and 45+
    • Above-average usage levels for full-time students (48%) and full-time employees (43%)
    • Higher use by Asian adults (43%) and Black/African-American adults (42%)
  • Household Demographics
    • Stronger in larger households – 49% of adults in households with 4 persons and 46% among those with 5 or more
    • Stronger in households with children – 48% of adults in households with 2 or more persons and children
  • Device Usage
    • Voice assistant usage is highest among those with the most devices and less among those with fewer. Usage rates are 50% and higher among the 52% of Voice Assistant users with 6 or more devices, and 14% and below among those with 2 or fewer devicesmetafacts-voice-assistant-usage-rates-by-no-of-devices-2017-01-27_15-29-49
    • Users of Game Consoles have a higher than average use of Voice Assistants – 47%
    • Apple iPhone users have higher Voice Assistant usage rates (49%) across all their devices than Google Android Smartphone users (36%)
  • Operating Systems of Devices
    • Users of Voice Assistants have more Windows devices (1.8) than Apple OS devices (1.5) or Google OS devices (0.8)
  • Key Devices
    • Usage of Voice Assistants are higher than average among those using VR Headsets (84%), Home Projectors (73%), Google TV/Android TV (72%), Amazon Fire TV (69%), Apple TV (62%), Google Chromecast (61%), Wireless Headsets (67%), and any Smartwatch (69%)
  • Household spending on technology devices and services
    • Users of Voice Assistants spend much more than the average household, at 1.4x the national average

Voice Assistant usage rates on other devices

Users of voice-enabled speakers such as the Amazon Echo use voice assistants on other devices, although in a different way than average users.metafacts-voice-assistant-usage-rates-among-speaker-users-2017-01-27_15-31-03

Users of voice-enabled wireless speakers such as the Amazon Echo are above average in using voice assistants on other devices. They are four times the national average in using voice assistance on a PC, and nearly four times (3.7x) in using a Tablet. They are more than double (2.3x) in using a mobile device (Notebook, Smartphone, or Tablet), and almost double (1.9x) in using a Smartphone.

Voice Assistant usage and device activities

So far, voice assistants have reached users who are the most broadly active with their devices. However, voice assistant usage hasn’t dominated any particular category of activities. From those users with the broadest social networking or shopping activities to those with the broadest personal and productivity activities, the most-active users are similar to each other, with each using voice assistants at nearly double the national average.

Looking ahead

Use of voice assistants have reached into the mainstream, having surpassed half of many different market segments. This widespread acceptance bodes well for voice continuing its growth. However, depth of use still has some ways to go. Users are currently juggling many devices, and using voice assistants across different devices and among differing operating system families. While this calls for a standard of some time – so users won’t need to adapt to each OS and instead each OS can adapt to them – no single standard has yet emerged.

Until more users either to choose to focus on one standard – such as staying within the Apple Siri/HomeKit family – they will continue to have the experience of speaking requests to Alexa in the ways Siri expects, to Cortana in the way Google Now or Assistant answer to, or some other combination. At least today the highly-touted artificial intelligence behind voice assistants hasn’t reached the level that one’s voice assistant would be jealous to discover you’ve been speaking with a different voice assistant.

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.


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

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Filed under Consumer research, Forward-Leaning, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate

How many connected adults use hearables? (MetaFAQs)

For ears, it’s an exciting time in the tech industry.

Hearable technology – audio-oriented wearables spanning wireless Bluetooth headsets to VR headsets – have received a fresh round of media attention. This has stemmed from substantial recent investment in new ventures such as Oculus VR along with a wider range of product releases.

Currently, one in eight US connected adults are regularly using a hearable device – either a wireless Bluetooth headset or VR headsets. This level of use is broad enough to represent great potential opportunity, yet not broad enough to sustain many competitors.

The primary current use case for Bluetooth headsets are for phone calls, as has been the case for more than a decade. Apple is leading the charge to change this with their Airpods tightly integrated with iPhones, in a bid to help popularize voice-controlled usage. metafacts-metafaqs-mq0099-120drxhear-2017-01-11_08-54-29Voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Now promise to radically shift how users interact with their technology.

VR headsets, sometimes called goggles, are primarily being used for immersive games, and reaching a slightly different segment than Bluetooth headsets.

This is based on our most recent research among 7,336 US adults as part of the Technology User Profile (TUP) 2016 survey.

This MetaFAQs research result addresses one of the many questions profiling active technology users.

Many other related answers are part of the full TUP service, available to paid subscribers. The TUP chapters with the most information about activities is the TUP 2016 Wearables, Hearables, Listening, and Speaking Chapter. This details which market segments are (and aren’t) using hearables, listening to music, using music streaming services, making phone calls, playing games, using voice control, and other audio-oriented products and activities.

These MetaFAQs are brought to you by MetaFacts, based on research results from their most-recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP).

For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Communication, Consumer research, Forward-Leaning, Information and Search, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Smartphones, TUP 2016, Usage Patterns