Tag Archives: Mobility

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%).

Tablets are also popular as second devices, with 17% of connected adults regularly using one as their secondary device. Half (50%) of these Tablets-Second users have a Smartphone as their primary device, followed by a Tower Desktop (23%), and Notebook PC (15%).

Who are these Tablet-First users?

Older women use a tablet as their primary device at a higher rate than other age/gender groups. Females age 35 and up have a higher Tablet-First rate than any other gender/age group.MetaFacts-td1702-tablet-first-metafacts-tup-2016-us-2017-02-16_09-43-52

Besides age or gender distinctions, Tablet-First users aren’t especially technology early adopters or laggards, nor are they primarily lower socioeconomic groups which might be thought to not be able to afford notebooks or smartphones.

Tablet-First users do skew slightly higher among adults with less-than-average educational attainment, with 23% having a high school education or lower, somewhat higher than the 19% rate among connected adults.

Looking more deeply at how older women use tablets differently from younger women or other men, another pattern stands out. Older women use tablets for a broader range of activities than other age/gender groups. They simply get more out of these devices. This includes any tablet they use – not only the ones used as the primary device.MetaFacts-td1702-tablet-first-most-broadly-active-by-gender-age-2017-02-17_10-45-44

Analyzing the top-third most-broadly-active by number of tablet activities by age and gender groups, females age 45 to 64 stand out. They are 24% higher than the national average than other age/gender groups based on how many activities they regularly do with their tablets. In contrast, males 65+ and 25-34 have the lowest levels of broad usage, indexing at only 75 or lower.

What other devices do they use?

Tablet-First users may choose to primarily use their Tablet, yet most have other devices. Three-fourths of Tablet-First users regularly use a PC, and over three-fourths (77%) regularly use a Smartphone. They have other mobile devices, such as a Notebook (42%) or a Home Notebook (36%). Another 36% have a second PC.MetaFacts-td1702-tablet-first-other-devices-2017-02-16_10-29-09

The clear majority of Tablet-First users have more devices than their tablet – 99% have 2 or more. Eight-five percent have 3 or more connected devices they regularly use.

What are these Tablet-First tablets used for?

The users of Tablets as their primary device are busy with their tablets, checking email, shopping, having fun, and social networking. Over half of adults using a tablet as their primary device regularly use it for a wide range of activities. While checking personal email ranks at the top, shopping is nearly as strong.

What’s notably absent from the list of major activities are more-intensive productivity or graphical activities such as creating presentations. Instead, many of the major activities can be adequately done with a tablet that may or may not have an external keyboard.MetaFacts-td1702-tablet-first-activities-2017-02-16_15-29-21

Whose Tablet is used first more than others?

Apple’s iPad is the undisputed leader among the Tablet-First group, representing 57% of the installed base. The nearest contender is Samsung, with only a 10% share. Although Microsoft may begin to make inroads with their recently revamped Surface line, the current share is only 3%.

Looking ahead

Several aspects stand out from these results. While age-affected eyesight may contribute to older adults preferring devices with larger screens, it’s not as simple as age. So, I don’t expect tablet-makers to rush out to build ever-larger tablets as the population ages. It’s only among females that Tablet-First rates are highest, not among males. Also, when separating genders, rates don’t increase with age. The choice of activities is a big factor, as simple activities from online shopping to game playing and social networking are easily done with a tablet, and each benefit from having a larger screen.

Definitionally, the market is likely to get muddied for regular consumers. As notebook companies continue to innovate with convertible and 2-in-1 designs, the fuller functionality of notebooks is being integrated into devices as mobile as tablets. Furthermore, smartphone makers continue to experiment with larger screens. Also, Apple continues to position its popular iPad as a fully-functional “Super. Computer.” computing device.

For these Tablet-First users, though, who appear to be functioning well with a broad collection of devices, it seems unlikely that one single device will capture their hearts and fingers.

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 2016 Chapter – Devices, Section DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices from TUP 2014, TUP 2015, and TUP 2016. Also, activity data was selected from Tablet Activities (Rows 670 ACT_TAB).

Related MetaFAQs

The following related MetaFAQs address questions included in this TUPdate.

MetaFAQs Question TUP Reference
mq0005 How prominent is remote printing from tablets? Chapter: G Tablets  Section: G1-TAB/Tablets  Tables: [670 ACT_TABxTAB] Tablet PC Activities
mq0038 Who uses their Smartphone as their primary connected device? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [120 DRxDEV_PRIM] Respondent Demographics
mq0055 How are Tablets used differently than Notebook PCs? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A1-OV/Overview  Tables: [670 ACT_TABxOV] Tablet PC Activities
mq0059 How many Tablet PCs are used to make phone calls? For video calls? Chapter: G Tablets  Section: G1-TAB/Tablets  Tables: [670 ACT_TABxTAB] Tablet PC Activities
mq0063 Who are the Apple-only users? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D3-DEV_ECO/Device OS Ecosystems  Tables: [120 DRxDEV_ECO] Respondent Demographics
mq0083 How many adults regularly take pictures with their connected devices? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D5-KEY_DEV/Key Devices  Tables: [590 ACT_IMGxKEY_DEV] Graphics/Image Activities
mq0122 How are Smartphones used differently than Tablet PCs? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A1-OV/Overview  Tables: [700 ACT_SPxOV] Smartphone Activities
mq0126 What is the primary communication device among Tablet owners? Chapter: G Tablets  Section: G1-TAB/Tablets  Tables: [570 ACT_COMMxTAB] Communication Activities
mq0157 How prominent is printing images from tablets? Chapter: G Tablets  Section: G1-TAB/Tablets  Tables: [670 ACT_TABxTAB] Tablet PC Activities
mq0181 How are Smartphones used differently than Tablet PCs? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A1-OV/Overview  Tables: [670 ACT_TABxOV] Tablet PC Activities
mq0220 Is there an age skew for Apple iPads? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A4-AGE/Age Ranges  Tables: [250 DEV_KEYxAGE] Key Device Metrics
mq0263 Of those who use a Smartphone as their primary connected device, do they have more Windows, Android, or Apple devices? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [270 DEVxDEV_PRIM] Devices
mq0300 Of those who use a Notebook PC as their primary connected device, do they have more Windows, Android, or Apple devices? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [270 DEVxDEV_PRIM] Devices
mq0304 Is there an age gap between those who communicate primarily with their Smartphones, Tower Desktops, Notebooks, and Tablets? Chapter: L Activities  Section: L3-ACTCOMM/Communications  Tables: [120 DRxACTCOMM] Respondent Demographics
mq0377 What is the most popular combination of connected devices? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D1-COMBO/Device Combinations  Tables: [250 DEV_KEYxCOMBO] Key Device Metrics
mq0378 Of those who use a Smartphone as their primary connected device, what other device have they used for most of their life? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [160 ADOPTxDEV_PRIM] Technology Adoption
mq0379 Of those who use a Smartphone as their primary connected device, what are their 2nd and 3rd devices? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [250 DEV_KEYxDEV_PRIM] Key Device Metrics
mq0397 Can Apple rightly claim to have captured the biggest tech spenders? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D6-KEY_DEV_OS/Key Devices by OS  Tables: [790 SPENDxKEY_DEV_OS] Tech Spending
mq0460 Is there an age or gender skew to connected music listening? Chapter: M Consumer Electronics  Section: MU-MUSIC/Music Players, Services, or Listening  Tables: [120 DRxMUSIC] Respondent Demographics
mq0474 Is there an age skew to TV watching, whether through through any combination of traditionally subscribed services (cable, satellite), over-the-top set-top boxes, or using a Connected Device? Chapter: M Consumer Electronics  Section: MT-TV_DEVACT/TVs, Boxes, or Services, TV or Video Watching  Tables: [120 DRxTV_DEVACT] Respondent Demographics
mq0495 What else do Apple Mac users own more often than the average Connected Adult? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D6-KEY_DEV_OS/Key Devices by OS  Tables: [250 DEV_KEYxKEY_DEV_OS] Key Device Metrics
mq0530 Of those who use a Smartphone as their primary connected device, how many connected devices do they actively use? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [490 UNITSxDEV_PRIM] Units
mq0531 Of those who use a Smartphone as their primary connected device, what are they planning to buy next? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [810 PLANSxDEV_PRIM] Purchase Plans
mq0535 Are the productivity-oriented Smartphone users very different in age from the average Connected Adult? Chapter: L Activities  Section: L8-ACTPROD/Personal/Productivity  Tables: [120 DRxACTPROD] Respondent Demographics
mq0626 Of those who use a Tower Desktop PC as their primary connected device, what are their 2nd and 3rd devices? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [250 DEV_KEYxDEV_PRIM] Key Device Metrics
mq0628 Of those who use a Tower Desktop PC as their primary connected device, how many connected devices do they actively use? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [490 UNITSxDEV_PRIM] Units
mq0629 Of those who use a Notebook PC as their primary connected device, how many connected devices do they actively use? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [490 UNITSxDEV_PRIM] Units
mq0630 Of those who use a Desktop PC as their primary connected device, what are they planning to buy next? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [810 PLANSxDEV_PRIM] Purchase Plans
mq0631 Of those who use a Notebook PC as their primary connected device, what are they planning to buy next? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D2-DEV_PRIM/Primary and Secondary Devices  Tables: [810 PLANSxDEV_PRIM] Purchase Plans
mq0677 How many adults use a Tablet using Apple iOS, Google Android, or Windows? Chapter: D Devices  Section: D6-KEY_DEV_OS/Key Devices by OS  Tables: [250 DEV_KEYxKEY_DEV_OS] Key Device Metrics
mq0663 How many users make video phone calls using their Tablet? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A1-OV/Overview  Tables: [670 ACT_TABxOV] Tablet PC Activities

 

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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.

Resources

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

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

What Size Companies Use Apple Macs? (MetaFAQs)

Employers have bought their employees Apple Macs for years. However, historically, these were few and far between, and mostly found in the hands of graphic artists and marketing departments.

Is Apple’s PC share higher among employees in smaller or large companies?

Among employees in smaller and medium-size companies, Apple’s share is twice that of employees in large companies.metafacts-metafaqs-mq0068-2016-10-22_17-07-21

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

Only 1 in 11 Primary Work PCs are Apple for employees in organizations with 1,000 or more employees. For employees in companies with less than 100 employees, 1 in 5 uses a Mac. Among only notebook PCs, Apple has a substantially higher share, similarly stronger in smaller than larger companies.

The move to mobility has favored Apple in recent years, as Apple’s advanced notebooks have gained broader acceptance among employers.

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 chapter with the most information about Hearables users is the TUP 2016 Devices Chapter. Other TUP chapters detail iPhones, iPads, and the overall brand footprint.

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 Desktops, Graphics and Image, Market Research, Notebooks, Operating systems, TUP 2016

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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