Tag Archives: Operating systems

Clouds Forming (TUPdate)

Clouds Forming – A TUPdate by Dan Ness, April 13, 2017

The terms “free” and “unlimited” continue to entice consumers and employees alike, in offers of faster bandwidth to larger data storage. The promise of enormous, convenient, and always-available storage space is helping Google, Apple, and Microsoft attract and retain customers within their fold. It’s also helping Amazon and the many other dedicated Cloud Storage/Sharing services, even while many offerings may be risking consumer and corporate security and privacy.

Cloud Storage and Sharing services have tapped into core needs, reaching a high share of American adult consumers and employees. We Americans like our stuff, and we love convenience. As surely as we pile clutter into garages and self-storage facilities, we accumulate countless zettabytes of images, music, movies, pre-binged TV episodes, documents, among other files. We also want to know our stuff is safe and can be easily retrieved whenever and wherever we want it.

Employed adults are especially strong users of Cloud Storage and Sharing services. Sixty-nine percent of employees actively use Cloud Storage/Sharing services, and their use is not restricted to personal files and documents. Almost half (47%) of employees back up work files/documents online and 43% use cloud Storage/Sharing services for work files. Employees love the convenience of ready access, even while their employers may have policies and guidelines to protect and restrict the use of corporate files on personal devices or offsite.

Employers have mixed feelings about consumer-class Cloud Storage/Sharing services, while employees have charged ahead. About 15 years ago, I was moderating some focus group with IT Managers. We were measuring their responses to a unique device to back up files on their employee’s mobile PCs. It was almost funny to hear their inner conflicts. At first, the IT managers strongly stated that user files were essential to their employer and job, so must be backed up. They shared horror stories of execs having lost critical files, often at early morning hours in distant locations. Later in the discussion, however, these same IT managers claimed they didn’t have the time or budget to create backups of anything not on their managed servers. In a classic case of cognitive dissonance, they failed to recognize a strong need in their organization, or see any reasonable solution.

Operating System Domination

Dominating technology markets requires an ever-expanding footprint. No longer limited to having one’s customers use the same brand or operating systems family across one device type, tech market dominance requires customers to adopt ecosystems and offerings spanning devices, software, services, media.

Cloud Storage/Sharing is proving to be one way to build dominance. There is a strong association between the number of devices with a given operating system family and the primary operating system of the device primarily used for Cloud Storage/Sharing activities.

Connected Adults using an Apple OS device (iOS, MacOS) as their primary Cloud Storage/Sharing device use the largest number of Apple devices. With an average (mean) number of 2.9, this is more than three times the number of these user’s number of Windows devices and nearly six times as many Google devices used for any activities.

There’s a similarly positive, although weaker, relationship for Windows and Google devices. Users mostly choosing a Google OS (Android, Chrome) device for Cloud Storage/Sharing activities have a higher average number of Google devices than Windows or Apple devices. Users primarily using Windows OS devices for Cloud Storage/Sharing use more Windows than Google or Apple devices.

Device Types

Across all types of consumers – employed or not – 58% of Connected Adults use any of their devices for Cloud Storage/Sharing services. Home PCs are the most popular device, used for these services by 39% of Connected Adults.

Smartphones and Tablets are the 2nd and 3rd most-used devices. Cloud Storage/Sharing services help users get access to files on devices which don’t have any removable memory, including access to a USB flash drive or hard disk, and an effective substitute for files attached to emails.

The broadest users, those who use the largest number of Cloud Storage/Sharing activities, use the services at nearly the same levels across each of their many devices. Nearly twice as many use their Home PC for 4 or more Cloud Storage/Sharing activities than only use 1-3 activities, 25% to 13%, respectively. Similarly, the broadest users are the majority of users for those using Smartphones, Tablets, or Work PCs.

Key Activities

Of the most common Cloud Storage/Sharing activities, backing up personal files is the most widely used activity. Forty-three percent of Connected Adults regularly do this.

It’s hard to beat the convenience of an Internet-connected backup. Removable hard drives and USB flash drives are also easy to use, yet can be misplaced, fail, or not be at hand when wanted. Each of these offer the benefit of physical security, unlike data which is stored offsite. However, most nontechnical users don’t feel the need for heightened security and rely on the security methods of their cloud storage companies.

Cloud services also offer unlimited size, depending on the service and subscription. This makes it easier for users to enjoy the services as convenient places to access their files from their various devices and locations.

Although many Cloud Storage/Sharing services are consumer-class, and may not be sanctioned by the user’s employer, using them for work files is a widespread activity. Backing up work files/documents online is regularly done by one-third (34%) of Connected Adults, and in turn by 69% of employed or self-employed adults.

Activities by Device

Home PCs have the highest share of users across all types of cloud storage/sharing activities. Smartphones being used for Cloud Storage/Sharing of personal files, at 18% of Connected Adults, is only slightly behind the number who use Home PCs for this. The same activity is the leading one for Tablets. For users of work PCs, the top activities are for work files and documents, and less so for personal ones.

Key Users of Cloud Storage/Sharing Activities

There are 74 million most-active Cloud Storage Sharing users, who regularly do 4 or more activities. They have some unique characteristics.

Employees in several industries stand out with usage rates of double or nearly-double the national usage rate of 34% of Connected Adults. Within the Construction Industry, usage includes 72% of Connected Adults. This makes sense when you consider that each step from design through building can benefit from quick mobile access to plans, images, and materials.

Three key employee roles stand out as being especially strong in their usage levels. IT/IS, Executives, and Specialists all have 60% or more of their numbers actively using a broad set of these activities.

Demographically, younger males (age 25-44) have usage rates of 62% or higher. Older millennials of any gender also have high usage – 59%.

In contrast, there are several segments where there are a small number of hardy users, outnumbered by their contemporaries. For example, among older adults and retirees, while there are very active users, their usage levels range from 4% for the Silent+Greatest Generation (age 71+) to Baby Boomers (age 52-61) at 14%.

Looking ahead

Human needs do not change quickly. Technology offerings change much faster, in efforts to meet those needs. I don’t expect consumers to suddenly tidy up their collections of unwanted files. Similarly, I don’t expect employees to suddenly fall into compliance with their employer’s guidelines and restrictions for Cloud Storage/Sharing services.

Instead, I expect consumers to continue to amass their collections of digital items, chasing ever-larger spaces. This, in turn, will continue to pressure demand for ever-faster transfer speeds and data plans to be able to maintain ready access to their collections.

Despite privacy and employer’s compliance and security concerns, the majority of consumers and employees will continue to expand their usage and reliance on Cloud Storage/Sharing services. Independent pure play services such as Box and Dropbox are likely to feel the squeeze of market concentration that comes as major players broaden their offerings to deepen their customer footprint. The pressure will come from many directions – device manufacturers, software developers, ISPs, Telcos, and media conglomerates. While these variously compete or cooperate to gain control over consumer’s files and data, consumers themselves will continue their amassing and accumulation.

The days of personal data are growing fewer. That which is offline and stored locally is destined for the junk heap, or at least the garage or storage facility.

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.
This TUPdate was based on results in the TUP Activities Chapter.


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Filed under Cloud Storage, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Usage Patterns

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

OS-Polyglots Are Big Tech Spenders (MetaFAQs)

Who are the biggest spenders – Windows-Only, Apple-Only, or some other segment? (MetaFAQs)

Google went high, Apple went higher, and Microsoft is left with the rest. That’s an oversimplification, and yet is reflected in household technology spending. Users of certain combinations of operating systems spend differently.metafacts-metafaq-mq0010-2016-11-11_11-00-43

Lowest-spending OS Combo

Adults that actively use only Microsoft Windows devices – PCs, Smartphones, or Tablets – spend less per year on technology products and services than adults who use at least one Apple or Google Android or Chrome OS device. Composed of some 36 million adults, these Windows-only one-sixth of connected adults spend $5.3k per year on their household technology products and services, from PCs and Printers, to Internet and TV service. This indexes at 67, two-thirds the average national level. Continue reading

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Filed under Convertibles, Desktops, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, TUP 2016

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

Device Primacy and OS – What we Hold Near (TUPdate)

Device Primacy and OS – What we Hold Near – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, January 18, 2017

Primacy. The first device you reach for, the one you stay near, the one you rely on. You might think that it’s the Smartphone, and that’s correct for many, but not all. For many activities and market segments, PCs and tablets dominate. A user’s activity focus affects which devices they choose most often, as does their operating system collection, among other factors.

Primacy by OS Family

All-Apple and all-Windows users are living in different worlds – as they have strikingly different preferences for their primary devices.
Among Apple-only users, Smartphones are the primary device for most types of activities. The PC (Mac or MacBook in this case) is their primary device for cloud storage/sharing and for search and information-related activities. Half (50%) of these adults using only Apple iOS or MacOS devices (no Microsoft Windows or Google Android or ChromeOS) do most of their cloud storage/sharing activities on a PC, and just under one-third (32%) primarily use a Smartphone.

In contrast, among Windows-only users, the PC is strongly the primary device for every major type of activity. Smartphones are only ranked second for productivity/personal and graphics/images activities. A tablet is the second choice for the greatest number of activity types – cloud storage/sharing, search/information, shopping, and social networking.metafacts-device-primacy-primary-secondary-device-2017-01-18_17-08-39

Apple’s iPad doesn’t rank as a second device for any type of activity among Apple-only users. This low level of primacy may seem surprising given that penetration of iPads is higher than average among this Apple-loyal segment. Sixty-one percent of Apple-only users regularly use an Apple iPad, more than double the national rate of 29%. This primacy analysis doesn’t mean Apple-only users aren’t enjoying their iPads – simply that they’re lower on the list of devices they choose for a wide range of activities.

Devices and Primacy
Across the entire base of connected adults, the PC is the leader for nearly every type of activity. The Swiss Army Knife broad nature of PCs continues its appeal. Smartphones only lead PCs for communications and graphics/imaging activities. Many of the specific activities in these two categories are strongly mobile – making phone calls, staying in touch, and taking and sharing photos.

OS Family

Connected Devices are dominated by three operating systems families – Microsoft Windows, Apple’s MacOS and iOS, and Google’s Android and Chrome OS. The base of Windows, once exclusively dominant, is well-overlapped by Apple and Google. The majority of users are living a multi-OS lifestyle, juggling more than OS family. The two largest OS combinations are nearly equal in market size. Just over one-fourth (26%) of users use connected devices running Windows and Google, and none with an Apple OS. Another fourth (25%) have Windows and Apple devices, with none as Google.metafacts-device-primacy-2017-01-12_16-25-15

Profile highlights of OS Family groups

It might be assumed that Apple-only users are early adopters while Windows-only users are laggards, partly explaining why they might choose different devices as primary or secondary. This is only partly true. The Windows-only users do include many tech laggards and the late majority, with 38% being the last of their age group to have first used a PC, mobile phone, or tablet. However, the Apple-only users aren’t especially early adopters, as 32% meet that definition, which is slightly less than the 33% nationwide who also do. There are other characteristics that set them apart.
Windows-only users are the oldest of the major OS family groups, on average 10 years older than every other group. They also include the smallest share of full-time employees, highest share of low-income households, and lowest average number of devices.metafacts-device-primacy-user-profile-highlights-by-os
Apple-only users have the highest share of younger millennials, have relatively high incomes, although are middling with respect to tech early adopters and laggards.
The jugglers of all three OS are the youngest, high incomes, more devices in use, and have the highest share of tech early adopters.

Activity types, primacy, ages and tech spending

Primacy of device by activity also varies with respect to the user’s age and consumer tech spending on devices and services. Younger adults aren’t necessarily the biggest tech spenders, nor are Smartphone users. In fact, those who primarily use their PCs for social networking or image/graphics activities are the biggest tech spenders and older than those who mostly use Smartphones for those activities.metafacts-device-primacy-age-device-spend-2017-01-18_12-36-08

The average age of adults who use a PC for the majority of their image/graphics activities – from managing photos to creating presentations – is 44, nearly five years older than those whose primary image/graphics device is a Smartphone. The graphics PC group also spends more than $1,450 per year more than Smartphone-focused users. Similarly, PC-focused Social Networkers are more than 8 years older and spend $730 more per year on consumer tech devices and services than their Smartphone counterparts.

Looking ahead

We expect tablets to continue to languish as a minor device for most users and most activity categories. As more 2-in-1 and convertible notebooks emerge and grow in acceptance, they will continue to relegate tablets to secondary or tertiary use.
Smartphones will continue their market penetration, replacing the basic cell phone among the last stalwart holdouts. Whether the last new Smartphone adopters will choose to go with Android or Apple Smartphones will set them on a course strongly affecting their next PC and tablet purchase. It’s most likely they will choose Google Android since this segment is more price-sensitive and less tech-savvy than average.
PCs will continue their gradual decline from primacy, to be replaced by Smartphones. Within PCs, there will be a broader division between the activity profiles for desktop and mobile PCs. We expect desktop PCs to continue their broad primary and secondary use, due to inertia and the as yet unmatched broad capabilities of PCs. Mobile PCs, however, while pressuring tablets, will themselves feel the strongest pressure from Smartphones as their broad usefulness continues to expand.

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. This TUPdate is based on the TUP Life Stage section, which is within the TUP 2016 User Profile Chapter.

Comments Off on Device Primacy and OS – What we Hold Near (TUPdate)

Filed under Basic cell phones, Behaviors and Activities, Cloud Storage, Communication, Desktops, Devices, Entertainment, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Shopping, Smartphones, Social Networking, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Video calling