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

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

Home PC Penetration Update [TUPdate]

Home PC Penetration is Stable

Home PCs continue to be a feature of online Americans. Four out of five online American adults regularly use a home PC, and this share has remained unchanged from 2015 through 2019. This is based on results from the 2015 through 2019 waves of TUP/Technology User Profile.

Use of more than one home PC has also remained stable. Half of online adults use only one home PC, a rate that has only varied by three percent over five years. Similarly, the usage rate has remained the same for the use of two home PCs and for three or more home PCs. Neither are online Americans accumulating or letting go of home PCs.

Home PC Use by Age Group

Across all age groups, most online Americans use only one home PC. Single home PC use is lowest among younger adults and highest among older adults. Use of two or more home PCs is hardly different by age group, ranging from 26% to 31%.

In 2015, the patterns were similar. Home PC usage among younger adults is slightly lower, at 28% of those age 18-24 in 2019, down from 25% in 2015, although this drop is not material.

Doubling and Tripling Up Among the Young

Home PC penetration has stayed strong while smartphone and tablet penetration has grown, especially among younger adults. In 2019, smartphone penetration is higher than home PC penetration among online adults age 54 and younger.  Tablet use is highest among adults age 25-44, strong users of all three devices.

Looking ahead

Habits die hard, and consumers hold onto some technology as a safeguard. Home PCs are likely to maintain their penetration levels for the next decade. However, TUP has already shown that home PCs have been losing their preeminence to smartphones as the primary device of choice for most activities. So, consumers will retain and replace home PCs as an insurance policy for those times when they are more convenient than either smartphones or tablets.

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 Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Desktops, Devices, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Technology adoption, Trends, TUP 2019, TUPdate

Favorite Device Combinations – Less Juggling

The Favorite Collections
Users vote with their fingers, demonstrating what they like by what they use. The top combination includes two devices – a notebook and smartphone and no desktop or tablet – and is actively used by nearly one in seven (14%) online adults in the US.

This is based on the four most recent waves of TUP/Technology User Profile, the 2016 through 2019 waves. These were based on 7,336, 7,521, 7,886, and 8,060 US online adult representative responses, respectively.

The top five combinations are used by well over half (59%) of online Americans. All the top combinations include a smartphone, three include a desktop, three include a notebook, and two include a tablet. Four of these major combinations have remained the most widely used for the last four years. Continue reading

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Filed under Consumer research, Desktops, Devices, Market Research, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate

The Persistent PC – With A Perennial Core [TUPdate]

Americans continue to hang on to PCs as they expand their collection of actively connected devices. Instead of Tablets and Smartphones fully replacing PCs, they have added to the mix. Even so, the most-dedicated core of PC has settled to a stable size following the shift.

This is based on the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile study waves from 2009 through 2018, collectively based on research results from 77,847 respondents.

The PC-intensive have shrunk in numbers over the years, establishing a solid minority. The most intensive – Adults with more PCs than people in their household – has coalesced into a core 10% of American adults. Moderate-intensity users – those with as many PCs in use as persons in their household – have been stable over the last decade in representing around one in four adults. In 2018, 22% of online Americans had as many PCs as people in their household.

The drive to mobility has finished making its impact. The transition to notebooks over desktops peaked in 2012, while smartphones, and tablets to some extent, diminished the need for many adults to be using more than one PC. As the lines continue to be blurred between tablets and PCs, and in other ways smartphones and tablets, users will increasingly focus on their activities. Rather than looking at devices first, users will make choices based on what it will take for them to get done that which they want to do.

Profile of the many-PC users

Adults with many PCs are generally younger than average and with a higher socioeconomic status. Almost two-thirds (65%) of adults actively using 3 or more PCs are college graduates, in contrast to 44% of online adults nationwide. Most (86%) are employed or self-employed, versus 61% nationwide. Over half (52%) are millennials (age 22-37/born 1981-1996) versus making up 34% of online adults nationwide. Also, 59% have annual household incomes of $75,000 or more (versus 38% nationwide) and over half (56%) have children in the households (versus 37% nationwide).

More adults who rely on a single PC choose HP. HP’s home PC share of the installed base among those adults using only one PC is 31%, followed by Dell’s share of 25%.

Looking Ahead

PCs are a present and vital part of the online user’s experience. This is likely to continue well into the future, although the definition of a PC is continuing to evolve. Users have expanded their activities across their many and multiple devices, broadly accepting multi-platform software supported by cloud storage. From tablets adding capabilities traditionally the province of PCs and notebooks adding abilities previously limited to smartphones or tablets, the definitions of device types is shifting. However, users continue to embrace change, shifting their device usage patterns more slowly than they discontinue their older devices. HP and Dell have strong brand share and inertia, and yet face strong challenges ahead as users shift from doing what they’ve done with PCs, and increasingly embrace multiple devices and platforms.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including 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.

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, Consumer research, Devices, Households, Market Research, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Multiple-PC Household, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2018, TUPdate