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Smartphones Rise, PCs and Printers Float, Tablets Waver – User Trends (TUPdate)

Connected Adults using Key Devices

The number of connected adults continues to rise in the US. Based on our Technology User Profile (TUP) 2017 wave, there are 212.6 million adults who regularly connect to the Internet using a PC, Mobile Phone, Tablet, or Game Console. This number is up 18.9 million from the 193.8 million adults we reported in our TUP 2013 wave.

While some of the increase has come from a growing adult population, the share of adults actively connected has also grown, due in large part to the increasing use of Smartphones.

The use of Tablets such as Apple’s iPad has also expanded since 2013, although declined somewhat in 2017.

Home PC usage has remained relatively stable, having appeared to be on the decline after 2013, only to regain again slightly. In part, this return was supported as buyers picked up new All-in-One and Gaming PC designs. Also, many online shoppers are still preferring their larger-screen PCs or Tablets over their Smartphones.

Use of Home Printers continues to have steady, if modest, growth. The percent of Home PC users with Home Printers has rebounded from 82% in 2013 to 88% in 2017. Home inkjets continue to be the user’s printer of choice.

Key Device User Profile

American Technology Users are getting older, on average. The average (mean) age of Connected Adults has increased gradually since 2013, rising from 44.1 to 44.9. The average age of Smartphone users has grown the most dramatically, rising from 37.2 in 2013 to 43.1 in 2017. Similarly, the average Tablet users is older than only a few years ago, rising from 40.2 in 2013 to 44.2 in 2017.

Average Age of Connected Adults using Key Devices

Home Desktops continue to be used by older adults than users of Notebooks, Smartphones or Tablets, although the average age has declined somewhat.

Digging deeper, we looked at the shifts in usage rates for key devices among parents. Adults with children are the biggest spenders on technology devices and services, as we’ve reported in other findings we’ve released from MetaFacts TUP.

Smartphone usage has grown strongly between 2013 and 2017, although is appearing to be leveling off to be just slightly higher than the current level. At 87% of adults with children, Smartphones are ahead of Home PCs. The use of Home PCs by parents has dropped somewhat from 85% in 2013 to 78% in 2017. Home printer use remained a steady 70%-71% among parents.

% of Parents using Key Devices

Adults with children make up 37% of Connected Adults in 2017, higher than the rate in 2013, which was 32%. In addition to being a sizable segment of the market by numbers, as we’ve reported elsewhere in TUP, they spend much more than the average adult on technology devices and services.

Solo adults

Adults in one-person households have a different profile than parents. To begin with, Home Notebooks are used by fewer adults in one-person household than among adults with children, at 43%. Smartphone and Tablet usage has grown, although trails usage rates among parents.

Home Printer use has sagged among single adults, dropping from 68% in 2013 to 63% in 2017.

Solo adults make up 20% of Connected Adults in 2017, effectively the same rate as in 2013, at 21%.

% of Adults in One-Person Households using Key Devices

Looking ahead

The trend is continuing with a multi-device experience for many years to come. Although Tablets appeared to be emerging as a third device, most users actively use both a mobile phone and PC. While Smartphones are growing in use, they aren’t fully replacing PCs or Tablets for most of user’s activities. Although consumers continue to explore and experiment with ways to enjoy what they have, changes in behavior can come slowly. The inertia of consumers is a major factor.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile survey, from 2013 through 2017, its 35th consecutive wave. Similar results are available through TUP fielded in Europe and Asia. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.


Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.

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Filed under Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Desktops, Devices, Market Research, Market Sizing, Notebooks, Smartphones, Statistics, Tablets, Tech Market, TUP 2013, TUP 2014, TUP 2015, TUP 2016, TUP 2017, TUPdate, Usage Patterns

Online and Offline seniors – Hidden in Plain Sight

Online and offline seniors – hidden in plain sight

The number of actively connected seniors continues to rise, even while their connection rate has stalled. Also, seniors are very active with their connected devices, from PCs to Tablets and Smartphones.

There are more American seniors online than ever before. This is primarily due to two factors – rapid mobile phone adoption and the growing number of seniors in the U.S. Population. Based on our Technology User Profile (TUP) 2017 survey, nearly 44 million adults age 62 and older actively using a PC, Tablet, Mobile Phone, or Game Console to connect to the Internet.

A market segment often overlooked or derided by the tech industry, seniors have been increasingly embracing technology, weaving it into the fabric of their lives.

Mobile phones are hot among older adults, especially Smartphones. Tablet and Smartphone usage has soared among Americans age 62 and above, rising 49% and 47% per year, respectively, between 2013 to 2017. In 2013, the number of active Tablet users age 62 and over was under 4 million, and in 2017 that number is 19.1 million seniors. Similarly, Smartphone use has grown from less than 6 million adults age 62 and over in 2013 to 26.8 million in 2017.

Notebook PC use has also grown, while overall PC use has remained essentially flat. Mobile PC use has grown 20.4% per year from 2013 to 2017. Use of at least one PC has increased 1.8% per year from 2013 to 2017.

Getting connected has outpaced population growth. Only a small part of these growth rates is due to the growing population of seniors. The US Census projected that the number of Americans age 65 and above grew 3.3% per year from 2013 to 2016. During this same period, the number of Connected Adults age 65 and above grew 5.6% per year. The current number of 43.4 million adults regularly using an Internet-connected PC, Tablet, Mobile Phone, or Game Console is up from 35.7 million in 2013. In other words, one in five (20%) Connected Adults in the US are age 62 and above.

The rapid growth of Smartphone use among seniors is due in part to the many of these adults who have given up their old data-free basic cell phones. However, that’s not the entire story. Overall mobile phone adoption has grown. Between 2013 to 2017, mobile phones are in the hands of 20.5 million more adults age 62 or above.

Not to be underestimated

Seniors are big tech spenders. The average annual household technology spending by adults 62 and older is $6.6k. Among slightly older adults 65 and older, the average is slightly less at $6.5k per year for all technology devices and services. Like their younger counterparts, the majority of tech spending by older adults is for services, from cable TV and smartphone service to Internet connections.

More than healthcare

Often seniors are overlooked with the uninformed belief that they are not active with their connected devices, or only focused on healthcare. Although not as active as younger connected adults, seniors are busy with their connected devices.

More than 50% of connected adults age 62 and older around the world use their primary connected device for nearly every type of activity: from Communication, Shopping, Information & Search, and Personal/Productivity, to Entertainment. One reason that seniors may be thought to be less active is their relatively lower presence on Social Networks, making them less visible. This is based on our Technology User Profile 2017 survey across five countries (US, Germany, India, UK, and China). In China and India, connected seniors 62 and older.

Searching online for healthcare information is a major activity for half of seniors using their primary connected device, although it’s the fifth-ranked activity. Even more widespread are activities such as shopping, staying in touch, on top of finances, and current events.

Looking ahead

I expect connected seniors to continue to expand their use of their technology, while unconnected seniors will remain unconnected. Those already connected will follow the path of younger adults and these senior’s younger selves, finding evermore ways to enjoy and utilize each type of technology they’ve adopted. Among  unconnected seniors, the flattened connection rates isn’t likely to spike soon with the current approaches. Although many organizations from retailers to hospitals are nearly demanding that all their clients all interact online, force isn’t working. Unconnected adults are not being served, or organizations are needing to rely on connecting through traditional methods: postal mail, landline phones, and personal visits. Senior non-users are unlikely to respond to the benefits that attracted younger adults online in the first place. Instead, new approaches are needed.

In the meantime, don’t be surprised to see more active seniors toting Smartphones and Tablets.


The information in this TUPdate is based on the most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP) – the TUP 2017 wave into the US, UK, Germany, India, and China. Current TUP subscribers can tap into these and additional similar results about seniors and younger adults. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.


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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Market Segmentation, Smartphones, Statistics, Tablets, Trends, TUP 2015, TUP 2016, TUP 2017, TUPdate

Tech Employees Are Youngest

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

Employees in technology roles or industries are strikingly younger than employees in other US employment roles and industries.

tech employees by age 180110_1350

As released in our most recent wave of Technology User Profile – TUP 2017 US – our research shows that employees in either technology-focused roles or in technology-oriented industries are much younger than the average American employee. Also, those employed in both technology roles and technology industries are youngest of all.

Just over half (51%) of employees in tech roles within a tech industry are age 25-34, the highest concentration of younger adults, with a median age of 34. Employees in tech industry with non-tech roles also have a high concentration of younger adults, with 39% being age 25-34 and median age of 35. By comparison, those in a tech role in a non-tech industry have the highest concentration of employees age 35-44, making up 35% of employees, with a median age of 36. Outside of tech roles or industries, age 25-34 only make up 25% of employees, with a median age of 39.

For purposes of this analysis, we categorized tech roles as those in IT/IS (Information Technology/Information Systems), Specialist, or Contractor/IT Consultant. Tech industries include Information (Publishing, Telecommunication), and Professional, Technical, and Scientific Services.


The information in this MetaFAQ is based on the most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP) – the TUP 2017 waves into the US. Current TUP subscribers can tap into these and additional similar results about adults in the UK, Germany, China, and India. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Demographics & Econographics, Market Research, MetaFAQs, TUP 2017

How Do (They) Love Thee? Follow Their Brand Footprints

How Do (They) Love Thee? Follow Their Brand Footprints – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, March 17, 2017

“How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways.” So begins the 43rd of Elizabeth Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. After more than 160 years, this poetry still inspires.
This classic poem seems fitting for a research-based understanding of customer loyalty and, well, mutual loyalty and love. One might hope that love and loyalty would flow in both directions – between customers and company – and in turn would result in more delighted customers, better products and services, and more customers actively using more of a brand’s offerings. In addition to brand footprint measures such as market size and intensity, MetaFacts measures the shape, loyalty, and quality of technology users.

Apple’s Intensity Up and To the Right

Apple’s customers now rank highest in average number of Apple devices, an elemental measure of brand footprint, reflecting in part the intensity of customer’s involvement. When customers use more than one of a brand’s offerings, it reflects the value customers see and their depth of customer loyalty. Based on our most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP), Apple’s customers are actively using an average of 2.18 devices, spanning Macs, iPhones, iPads, an Apple TV box, Apple Watch, or some combination. Only one year earlier, our TUP 2015 wave reported that Apple’s device average was effectively on par with the footprint of Microsoft Windows devices.
Between 2014 and 2016, HP and Google Android/Chrome OS devices have seen their customer’s active device averages erode as Apple’s has gained. This is due in part to consumers abandoning older Google Android Tablets. Dell’s average rose slightly in 2015, only to sag slightly by 2016. Continue reading

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Filed under Desktops, Devices, Market Research, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate

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