Tag Archives: Prepaid Wireless

Are Rental PCs a Clue to the Next Big Thing in Technology?

Rent to Own-Storefront look familiar?

A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

Consumers continue to shape the future of technology with their pocketbooks, whether by outright purchase or payment plans. PC renting is not currently widespread among most U.S. consumers, with only 1% of American online adults using a rented home PC. If considered much at all by the digerati, it is considered passé or fringe.

However, looking ahead, consumer usage patterns are trending towards the pay-as-you-go or the ad-supported model, and with a new definition of PCs and devices as the preferred platform(s): whether called Smartphone, Laptop, Tablet, Netbook, Mobile, or otherwise.

Today’s PC rental business might be called opportunistic, socially beneficial, or predatory, depending on your perspective. Americans renting PCs skew towards younger adults – particularly those PC Newbies who have used a PC less than a quarter of their life – as well as skewing towards adults not employed full-time. Also, evidently, PC renting is biased towards people of color: with rental rates higher among adults who identify with a racial/ethnic group other than White/Non-Hispanic.

Interestingly, these same segments are stronger than average in their use of Smartphones or Basic Mobile Phones as their primary or only browsing, email, and Twitter platforms, as well as the broadening use of prepaid cellular plans. This signals that these consumer segments are likely the earliest adopters of new financial models – not the mythical early adopters stereotypically portrayed as affluent, highly-educated youngsters.

Recently, attention on the rental PC business has increased due to the controversial practices of some rental retailers. The major furniture rental chain Aaron’s was named in a federal lawsuit. Some rental companies, allegedly including some Aaron’s outlets or franchisees, have protected their equipment through the use of remotely activated webcams or tracking software, to the consternation of unwitting renters. Privacy and security issues are looming as important factors following large breaches spanning credit cards, health records, Sony PlayStations, passwords and WikiLeaks documents, only to name a few.

The pay-as-you-go approach has done well for the cable TV and wireless phone businesses, if not for PC manufacturers or PDA makers. Wireless carrier subsidies are increasingly driving the decisions of consumer technology manufacturers, a factor arguably contributing to Palm being driven from their business model prior to being acquired by Hewlett Packard.

In addition to this pay-now/pay-later balance, consumers also position platforms along the BOB-Integrated spectrum. The BOB – Best Of Breed – end of the spectrum features products which do one or few functions very well. One example is a standalone GPS device which gives directions extremely well. The other end of the spectrum: Integrated or Swiss Army Knife – features broadly functional devices which do many things adequately. An example is a Smartphone navigation app, which may not have a full function set or may be compromised due to simultaneous use for incoming messages and music or as a timepiece. Most interestingly, consumers find ways to adapt their behavior in ways that are out of synch with the intentions of the product designers, in some cases using on a fraction of a product’s capability while at other times finding new uses for products beyond their expected design.

Looking ahead, MetaFacts expects continued turmoil and changes as each segment of consumers decide their own favorite device or platform striking a balance of BOB vs. integrated, with choices being affected in part by heightened security and privacy concerns and in part by the underlying payment model.

Source

The results in this TUPdate are drawn from the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Survey. In our most recent wave of Technology User Profile, we surveyed American adults about their use of mobile phones, technology attitudes, and many other behavioral and socioeconomic factors. Current TUP subscribers can access and drill down more deeply into this phenomenon using TUP Interactive Access or with their datasets.

We started this analysis by first looking at the answers from 8,175 U.S. respondents in the Technology User Profile service and then drilled down further into their profiles to get a more complete picture.

Contact MetaFacts to access the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition report, which covers the broader range of key trends. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically.

These editions are for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of Internet products and activities  – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, demographics, and attitudes – see the many other questions TUP answers on www.technologyuser.com. Tech market research professionals who want a solid resource they can use immediately after industry events such as mergers, or even use prior to anticipated events, can license direct access to TUP.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at http://technologyuser.com/contact/ for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts helps technology marketers find and measure their best and future customers. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile (TUP) survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. TUP analyzes key trends and the data-rich source can be dived into more deeply for custom analysis. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, Households, Market Research, Market Segmentation, Technology User Overview Report, Trends, TUP 2010, TUPdate

Texas & California may see the largest dominant carrier post-merger-MetaFacts TUPdate

Texas & California may see the largest dominant carrier post-merger

A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

With the prospective merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, would the combined dominant share be very different in some states than in others?

Also, will the fog of merger give competitors enough pause to secure their unique clienteles, and attract more of the same?

Nationwide, the combined share of the top three carriers would increase from just over two-thirds (68%) to nearly eight in ten (78%).

Post-merger Carrier Domination

In our most recent wave of Technology User Profile, we found that three carriers – Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobile, and T-Mobile, collectively hold a 68% share. This is based on the broadest active market – subscribers of mobile carriers using Smartphones or Basic Mobile Phones, with either contract or pre-paid agreements, and among online adults. Combining the subscriber share of AT&T Mobile and T-Mobile, this boosts Sprint into the top group, so that the top three carriers collectively command 78%.

There is a regional difference, in some cases due to the growing popularity of simpler more cost-effective prepaid agreements through MVNOs, and in other cases to the strength of regional operators.

The combined AT&T/T-Mobile share would be 50% or higher in two states: Texas with 55% and California with 50%.

In the Northeast, TracFone is popular enough to be included in the post-merger top 3 carriers, although with a distant 9% to AT&T/T-Mobile & Verizon’s collective 73%. TracFone’s Northeast share is buoyed by New York and Pennsylvania, where the 9% share is similarly far from the two leaders 70% and 73%, respectively.

Among the major states, Wisconsin is unique in the strength of regional carrier US Cellular, which holds a 19% share, even besting nationally-second Verizon. No other regionals have that position or share.

Across other states and regions, Sprint has a third-ranked position. In most key states, Sprint’s share is less than half of the second-ranked carrier.

Whether or not these heightened levels of market dominance constitute a problem will depend primarily on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). One of their statistical tests for market concentration is the Herfindal-Hirschman Index (HHI) which summarizes the relative difference of shares. Industries with scores of more than 1,800 are considered concentrated. If post-merger, using our current market share results, Texas would have an HHI of 3,396, California  3,247, and New Jersey 3,208, up from 2,059, 2,154, and 2,547 respectively. Furthermore, the HHI would rise to 3,299 among contract subscribers and 1,716 among prepaid subscribers.

From the customer’s perspective we’ve gathered in findings of our TUP survey results, the usage profiles of AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers are different enough to show this will not be a simple merger. In fact, some customer usage types are unique enough they were already poised to seek better alternatives due to the way they use mobile wireless devices. That’s in addition to changes they might be considering beyond being triggered by the merger announcement, such as their satisfaction levels with customer service, their reception, or the complexity or costs of their subscription agreements.

Source

The results in this TUPdate are drawn from the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Survey. Results specific to this topic can be obtained through a customized report and analysis. Or contact MetaFacts for the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition report, which covers the broader range of key trends. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of Internet products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, demographics, and attitudes – see the many other questions TUP answers on www.technologyuser.com. Tech market research professionals who want a solid resource they can use immediately after industry events such as mergers, or even use prior to anticipated events, can license direct access to TUP.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at http://technologyuser.com/contact/ for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile (TUP) survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. TUP analyzes key trends and the data-rich source can be dived into more deeply for custom analysis. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Technology User Overview Report, TUP 2010

Weak signals mean weak AT&T smartphone subscribers – reported in MetaFacts TUP survey

Weak signals mean weak AT&T smartphone subscribersA MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, MetaFacts Principal Analyst

How much does a weak AT&T signal affect how its subscribers use their smartphones? Now that Apple’s iPhone is officially being launched on Verizon’s network, will disgruntled subscribers simply jump carriers? Also, how large is the gap between this perception of AT&T’s network and Verizon’s?

There has been a lot of press about AT&T’s smartphone subscribers not getting the signal they want when they want it, particularly for its Apple iPhone users.

Based on our most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP) surveys, there is a relationship between how well subscribers perceive they are getting signal and how fully they use their smartphones.

Just under half (49%) of light-usage AT&T smartphone subscribers agree or strongly agree with the statement “My mobile phone is able to get signal any time so I can use it anywhere.” These light-usage Smartphone subscribers use their Smartphone more like a Basic Mobile Phone, with a below–average number of activities, focusing on core activities such as phone calls and text messages.

By comparison, 61% of heavy-usage AT&T Smartphone subscribers agree or strongly agree they can get signal when & where they want. The enjoy their Smartphones for a much richer range of activities, including downloading paid apps at 36 times the rate of light users. Other activities enjoyed by more than 30% of smartphone users and much more often by heavy-usage smartphone users are managing tasks (20x), watching movies (19x), keeping a calendar (12x), and checking sports, news, movie times, and weather (9x). In essence, when smartphone users can’t connect, they can’t fully enjoy what a smartphone can and will do for them.

Will Verizon be that different?

By comparison, Verizon’s current smartphone subscribers cite fewer problems with the network. While 86% of AT&T’s smartphone subscribers agree or are neutral about their ability to get signal when they want, 94% of Verizon’s subscribers similarly agree or are neutral.

This signal perception gap is not wide enough by itself to fully sway subscriber’s future choices. While it will continue to get a lot of press, other issues may not get as much attention, yet may have stronger damping effects.

Dissatisfied Smartphone subscribers may simply move to a Basic Mobile Phone. The idea of moving to a mobile phone that’s not sexy or advanced may seem like heresy, particularly within some parts of tech media. Reliability and simplicity appear to be growing in their importance as key buying factors. After all is said and done, subscribers do want to actually use what they’re carrying and paying for.

Furthermore, most buyers of new technology don’t often like to admit their frustrations and difficulties. There’s a personal identification with products like Smartphones, particularly among the least-technical earliest adopters. In other research MetaFacts has publicly released, we’ve identified a strong market for prepaid wireless and for the use of Basic Mobile Phones, and not only among the unemployed or socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Although Smartphones and signal issue get a lot of attention, consumers prove repeatedly that their choices, and subsequently the marketplace, is more complex than on first look.

Signal perception by mobile phone usage for AT&T Smartphone subscribers

Source

MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition – report available by contacting MetaFacts. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of communication products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, chat, and webcams – see the other communication-oriented questions TUP covers on www.technologyuser.com.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Windows Vista, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Moms and Dads, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at http://technologyuser.com/contact/for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

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Filed under Statistics, Tech Market, Technology User Overview Report, TUP 2010, TUPdate

8.5 million Smartphone users intend to churn – reported in MetaFacts TUP survey

Chart: Carrier Churn by Mobile Phone Type

Carrier Churn by Mobile Phone Type

A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, MetaFacts Principal Analyst

How strong are intentions to switch carriers, and does this vary by mobile phone type?

Intention to churn is a key concern for wireless carriers and handset manufacturers alike. Based on our most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP) surveys, 21% of Smartphone users intend to switch carriers when their contracts expire. This is based on over 7,000 representative respondents who regularly use a mobile phone and either agree or strongly agree with the statement: “I plan to switch carriers when my contract expires.”

Smartphone churn intention raters are a much higher churn rate than among basic feature phone users, with 14% planning to switch. Since there are so many basic mobile phone users, even at a lower rate, this group outnumbers Smartphone users, standing at 16 million subscribers poised to change.

There is the chance that when basic phone subscribers switch, they will move to a Smartphone. This is not a certainty, however, as many subscribers are finding ways to get their needs met with their basic feature phones. Also, switching to a Smartphone is not the only reason subscribers switch carriers, they also report dissatisfaction with customer service and unsatisfying network coverage. In the report, we specify how much lower network and customer service satisfaction is among AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers than other carriers such as Verizon.

Furthermore, pre-paid subscriptions are on the rise, as subscribers let their fingers do the walking to exercise their dissatisfaction with the restrictions of term plans. Brands and sub-brand such as Net10 and Straight Talk offered in WalMart through MVNO America Movil are just one example of likely rapid entrants to join the fray of prepaid brands TracFone, Virgin, Leap and others.

Analysis

Consumers are fickle, and vote with their pocketbooks. Once they start considering defecting from a carrier, they look at competitive handsets served by other carriers, just as they have in the past. Now, however, more subscribers have broadened their consideration set to include pre-paid agreements. Also, we expect some Smartphone users to retreat back to basic mobile phones, due in part to overwhelm with complex & costly agreements, or with the handsets and apps themselves. Although any market movement away from Smartphones may be considered heresy by fanboys and early tech adopters, many regular people consider anything with thousands of apps and hundreds of features to be an overcomplicating negative.

From the changes evident from high churn intention and low satisfaction rates, the outlook is for a continued fracturing of the mobile phone market. The early adopters with Smartphones will form the bulk of a Smartphone replacement market as concerned carriers placate them with newer handsets. Meanwhile, they will also be heavily courted by competitors, so may defect even before their plans terminate. At the other end of the spectrum, the segment of pre-paid plan basic mobile phone users will continue to attract defectors from plans they see as onerous, carriers they are dissatisfied with, or from phones they see as overly complicated. MetaFacts expects less activity from other segments in the near term.

Most certain today is that mobile phone users express resistance to having their phones pried from their fingers. Most do, however, plan to change carriers, handsets, subscription plans, and how they use them.

Source

MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition – report available by contacting MetaFacts. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of communication products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, chat, and webcams – see the other communication-oriented questions TUP covers on www.technologyuser.com.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Windows Vista, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Moms and Dads, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at http://technologyuser.com/contact/ for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Technology User Overview Report, TUP 2010, TUPdate

Mobile PC Market – Size and Trends

Mobile PC Market – Size and Trends

After more than three decades of pioneering and innovative experimentation, mobile PCs have finally reached the mainstream. During the first half of 2008, consumers and employees acquired as many mobile PCs as desktops.

News flash: even more recent updates to this information are available to subscribers to the full Technology User Profile service, the TUP Overview Report, and other TUP Profile Reports. For examples of mobile market questions answered by TUP, refer to the TUP Answers page for Mobile Computing. and the TUP Answers page for Mobile Phones.

The Shift To Mobility

The installed base is still dominated by desktops, representing many years of accumulation and retirement of consumer-owned and employer-owned PCs, some acquired new and others acquired used or refurbished. Of the 144 million PCs being used by American adults as their primary PC, one-third (33%) are mobile PCs, mostly owned by consumers.

ph_g_base_ownership_factor1

The installed base is increasingly mobile, although still dominated by older desktops. While half of PCs in use that were acquired in early 2008 are mobile, those acquired in the prior 2 years are made up of 65% desktops and 35% mobile PCs.

This is due in part to three main effects: an increasing price performance ratio relative to desktops, consumer buying behavior, and the physical longevity of desktops. During the last decade, the functionality and capability of notebooks has increased to meet and often exceed that offered in a similarly priced desktop. This has encouraged buyers to consider notebooks over desktops even when mobility is not a primary purchase factor.

metafacts_ph_g_increasingly_mobile

Buying habits are also a factor. American technology consumers often buy both hardware and software with more features than they actually need or end up using, as a type of hedge against technological obsolescence and unforeseen needs.

Furthermore, mobile PCs, although designed to be mobile, are relatively fragile. This contributes to their life being shorter than for desktops. The average age of a primary desktop PC is 3.2 years, nearly one year longer than the average age of a mobile PC: 2.3 years.

Other findings in the Mobile PC Profile Report include:

Brand Shares of Mobile & Desktop PCs
Mobile PC Brands by Year Acquired
Market Segments and Mobile PC Brands
Operating Systems & Mobility
Operating Systems on Mobile PCs – Pre-installed or Aftermarket?
Operating Systems by Mobile PC Brand
User Age and Mobile Computing
User Age and Mobile PC Brand
User Gender and Mobile PC Brand
Age within Gender of Primary Computer User and Mobile PC Brand
Number of Locations by Gender and Age
Employment Status and Mobile Computing
Employment Status and Mobile PC Brands
Market Segment by Mobile PC Brand
Big & Small Companies and PC Mobility
Educational Level and Mobile PC Brand
Household Income by Mobile PC Brand
Age of Kids and Mobility of PC
Mobility Doesn’t Always Mean Mobile Use
Locations for Mobile PCs
Public PC Locations by Mobile PC Brand
Mobile PC Brand by Number of Locations Used
Mobile PC Users and the Total Number of PCs Used
Mobile PC Brand by Number of PCs Regularly Used
PC Purchase Year by Mobility
New versus Used/Refurbished by Mobile PC Brand
Hours of Use by Mobile PC Brand
Busy Mobile PCs and Mobile PC Brands
Activities and Mobility
Major Activities Point Out that Mobile PC Brands Vary
Tech Attitude Gap between Mobile PC and Desktop Users
Tech Attitudes by Mobile PC Brand
Brand Loyalty by Mobile PC Brand
Scanners by Mobile PC Brand
Docking Solutions by Mobile PC Brand
Firewire Usage by Mobile PC Brand
Sony Mobile PC Users Shop at a Broader Selection of Outlets
Which Mobile PC Users Frequent which Online and Retail Outlets
Retail Purchase Channels & Outlets by Mobile PC Brand
Online Purchase Channels & Outlets by Mobile PC Brand

The Mobile PC Profile Report is available for immediate purchase through the online store at the MetaFacts website – MetaFacts.com

News flash: even more recent updates to this information are available to subscribers to the full Technology User Profile service, the TUP Overview Report, and other TUP Profile Reports.

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Windows Vista, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Moms and Dads, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry topics. These Profile Reports are in a series on specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption and use in American households and businesses. Interested technology professionals can sign up at www.metafacts.com for complimentary TUPdates, periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a national market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are widely recognized as a primary marketing resource for Fortune 1000 companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, peripherals, mobile computing, and related services and products. For more information, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, Mobile Phones, TUP 2008