Category Archives: Mobile Phones

Key Home PC Trends [TUPdate]

Home PC Penetration

The home PC has been a central part of the American technology user’s world for years, and while remaining so for many, the home PC is slowly losing its primacy among some market segments.

Home PCs have been challenged by the emerging use of smartphones and tablets, and not only among younger Americans. Older Americans have also rapidly adopted smartphones and are starting to discover how to use them well. Home PC makers, software developers, and service providers have worked hard to keep the home PC as a central device, or at least one that is included.

The home PC is not down and out – not by a long shot. The humble PC is in use by most online Americans. In 2020, 75% of online adults in the US actively use a home PC. From 2015 to 2019, this level was effectively flat at 80%.

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Working From Home With What You Have [TUPdate, MetaFacts Pulse Survey]

Two out of three employees suddenly working from home are not well-supported by their employers, at least not with their technology.

Among the largest US employers, 18.6 million employees working at home are doing so without a work PC. This is almost half (47%) of all US work-at-home employees without a work PC. Pre-pandemic, firms with 1,000 or more employees provided 20.6 million of their employees with at least one work desktop or notebook PC. This measure is based on our TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 wave with 3,935 employed respondents. As of April 15, 2015, 30.3 million online American employees are still working for these large companies with 1,000 or more employees. Of these, 11.7 million employees are working from home with a work PC.

Chart: US Employees working from home with and without an employer-provided PC by size of company

Most employees are effectively subsidizing their employers by using their own personal home PCs, tablets, or working at home without any computing device.

Large companies aren’t the only ones not supporting employees’ technology needs. Midsize companies have 13.6 million employees working at home without a work PC. Midsize companies (50 to 999 employees), have fewer employees in total (32.9 million nationwide) than large companies, of which 21.6 million were working from home as of April 15th, 2020.

Small companies, while smaller in total number, have the highest share of work-at-home employees without a work PC. Their 7.4 million work-at-home employees without a work PC are more than twice as many as their 3.1 million working at home with an employer-provided PC.

Looking Ahead

While employees are still employed and working at home, it’s important that they have the resources they need to get their work done. Employees who already had an employer-provided PC ostensibly need one while they’re working from home.

Larger firms are more likely to have IT/IS departments and computing infrastructure and support built around the physical workplace. Most smaller companies need the same capabilities and if they’re not in-house resources, then they rely on multitude of consultants and VARs/VADs. While remote workers are not a new phenomenon for employers of any size, hardly any were ready for the recent rapid shift due to the pandemic.

Long before the pandemic, employers have long relied on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where employees pay for many of their own devices – from PCs to smartphones. I expect the sudden work-at-home shift to inspire some employers to better provide for their employees. Besides building goodwill, this will benefit employers by having a more consistent set of configurations to manage which will, in turn, help employees to be more productive and will reduce employer’s support needs. However, based on experience, I expect inertia to continue – with most employers relying on employees to foot the bill for their at-home work technology and its support.

About this TUPdate

MetaFacts conducted independent research to gather the results used in this TUPdate. The projections of total US employees by employer size are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents, of which 3,935 were employed full-time or part-time. Also, this TUPdate included results from the April 15th, 2020 wave of the MetaFacts Work From Home Study, the third weekly wave of a special study focused on the quickly changing situation. This wave included responses from 396 employees working at home.

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Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. Subscribers to the MetaFacts Work At Home Study may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Work At Home Study, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Cloud Storage, Communication, Desktops, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, Usage Patterns

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.

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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.

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