This week, Google announced they’ll be pulling the plug on the consumer-facing Google+, although after unreported widening abandonment. Google’s social network rocket never quite left orbit and was already on its way down. Although the decision was partly portrayed as protecting user’s privacy, recently a substantial number of Google+ users had already abandoned the platform.
In the last year, a substantial number of Google+ users stopped returning. This is based on the results of our independent survey, TUP (Technology User Profile), conducted continuously since 1983. From mid-2014 through mid-2017, Google+ had continued its steady, but stagnant, usage patterns. During that time, the number of active US adult users hovered between 41.7 and 48.6 million. Even before Google announced the closure of Google+, we found in our most recent wave of TUP, fielded mid-year 2018, that the number of Google+ users had dropped nearly in half, to 25.2 million users.
The final Google+ hangers-on form a unique profile, especially for the sites they frequent. They are three times more likely than the average online adult to be active on MySpace, and twice as likely to be using Viber, Reddit, Imgur, or Tumblr.
Demographically, usage levels plummeted simultaneously for all age and gender groups. At one peak point in 2015, 43% of online males age 25 to 34 were using Google+. By 2018, that plummeted to 14%.
Remaining users are not from any particular gender or age group, as all have penetration rates in the teens.
Even though Google’s announcement hinted they may refocus Google+ on enterprise users, these are also few in number. In fact, a higher-than-average share of remaining Google+ users are unemployed or employed part-time.
Google’s sunsetting may discourage the remaining loyalists, affecting use of other Google products and services. For example, Google+ users are twice as likely as any other online American to be using Google Nexus Player, and Google Chromecast. And, in China and India, Google+ adult users have an above average share of using Google TV and Google Nexus Player. Furthermore, in India, Google+ users actively use an average of 1.64 Google devices, including Smartphones and Tablets.
If the transition is managed well, Google’s attempt to reverse the polarity of a negative to a positive may avoid inadvertently changing Google+ to Google minus.
This post 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 TUP 2018, its 36th consecutive wave, as well as previous waves. Comparable results are available through TUP fielded in Europe and Asia. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.
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.
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.
Which segment uses which device for their primary communication device more than a Smartphone or Basic cell phone?
None do, although one segment shows a counter trend. Mobile phones – especially Smartphones – are the primary communications devices for all age/employment segments. This has been a growing trend for the last several years, and 2014 marked the last year the PC was king for communications among any segment. In 2015, the last group to focus on mobile phones for their spoken, visual, and written communications activities was the segment of adults age 50 and above and who are not employed.
However, one segment has made a reversal of that phone-only trend. Employed adults age 18-39 have started to increase their use of PCs as their primary communications device. While mobile phones still lead, this shift may be surprising to some.
Looking more deeply into what this segment is doing by drilling down into the TUP activities data by device type, two activities stand out. Young employed adults are increasingly making web-based group meetings and video calls. From Slack to Skype and for work and personal matters, this segment is using these activities at nearly twice the national rate.
To be clear, the PC has not returned to primacy for communication among younger employed adults. However, collaboration has sparked some renewed life in the old workhorse.
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 chapters with the most information about communication activities is the TUP 2016 Activities Chapter.
These MetaFAQs are brought to you by MetaFacts, based on research results from their most-recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP).
Shifts Ahead in the Windows Installed Base – Dan Ness, November 3, 2016
Any large installed base doesn’t always stay that way. Fickle customers continue experimenting and switching between platforms and ecosystems. Microsoft continues to meet challenges from Apple, Google, and countless others, as users continue their quest for what they see as the best. Despite the size and breadth of the installed base, Microsoft’s customers for certain products and services are not as average as may be expected.
Actively Used Windows Devices by Type
Understanding just how large the Windows installed base is begins with some basic measurements. How many adults use Windows OS devices, and which types of devices dominate?
Most American adults use a Windows device, with 170.4 million using some type of key connected device. This means more than three-quarters (78%) of American adults use any combination of one or more Windows PCs, Smartphones or Tablets.
This level of dominance appears to spell strong security for Microsoft. It’s important to look one level more deeply – to the types of devices being actively used which are and aren’t using Windows.
Another 47.8 million adults are actively using a connected device using any other operating system than Windows. This defines a substantial portion of the market outside of Microsoft’s Windows ecosystem.
Microsoft Windows’s strongest domain is on Desktop and Notebook PCs. 166.3 million adults actively use a Windows PC, while 27.6 million only use a PC (or Mac) that doesn’t run Windows.
When it comes to Smartphones, Microsoft Windows hasn’t made a substantial lasting presence. Of the 170.6 million adults using a Smartphone, only 4.5 million use a Windows Smartphone.
Tablets have been stronger for Microsoft, especially with its relatively recent release of the Microsoft Surface line. Of the 132.9 million US adults who regularly use a Tablet, 25.6 million run Windows.
Size of the Active PC Installed Base
How many adults use PCs, and which operating systems dominate?
PCs continue to dominate the collection of connected devices in active use. 193.9 million adult Americans use a Windows, Mac or Google Chrome OS PC. There are connected adults who don’t use a PC, and these number 24.3 million.
The lion’s share of adults actively use PCs running Microsoft Windows. 166.3 million adults actively use a Windows PC, while 27.6 million only use an Apple Mac or Chromebook.
Apple has a much smaller share of adults who use one of their Macs or MacBooks. 44.4 million adults actively use an Apple PC. There is an overlap of 24.2 million adults, meaning that over half of Apple MacOS users also actively use a Windows PC. Looked at from Microsoft’s perspective, only 15% of Windows users actively use an Apple PC.
Google’s Chrome OS PCs have a nominal share. 3.1 million adults actively use a Google OS PC.
Size of the Active Smartphone Installed Base
How many adults use Smartphones, and which operating systems dominate?
170.7 million adult Americans use a Smartphone, using Google Android, Apple, Windows or any other OS. At 78% of connected adults, this penetration is very high.
Another 47.5 million use a connected device other than a Smartphone. We expect most these holdouts, many of whom are using Basic feature phones, to eventually migrate to a Smartphone, if begrudgingly.
However, the majority of new Smartphone sales will be into a replacement market, as subscribers update their handsets.
Google Android leads now in Smartphones. With 80.8 million adults million adults actively use a Google Android Smartphone, this is slightly higher than Apple’s 77.8 million adult iPhone users. Microsoft Windows phones, however, are only in the hands of 4.5 million connected adults.
Size of the Active Tablet Installed Base
132.9 million adults are using at least one Tablet, leaving 85.3 million connected adults not actively using one.
Apple’s iPad has the largest share of the installed base, with 63 million active users. Apple’s share, however, has been shrinking with broader acceptance of increasingly sophisticated and more heavily marketed tables using Android and Windows.
With 36 million Android Tablet users, Google has a strong base, even if well behind Apple’s.
Windows, with 25.6 million users, lags behind both leaders. However, considering that Windows Surface tablets were released starting in 2012, expanding to this size base is impressive.
The Shifting Desktop PC OS Share
The current installed base of Desktop PCs is dominated by Microsoft Windows.
Apple has started to make inroads with its Macs. Among the newest Desktop PCs in the installed based, , Apple’s share is effectively one-in-five, at 21%. This is stronger than Apple Macs in the installed base which were acquired in 2015, where Apple’s share is one-in-six, at 17%.
The Shifting Notebook PC OS Share
The current installed base of Notebook PCs continues to be dominated by Microsoft Windows. Apple has gained a substantial share, with nearly one-quarter (24%) of the installed base.
Historically, Apple has been very strong among younger adults, especially students. In fact, while 77% of adult students use some type of Windows PC, this is a smaller share than the average adult. At the same time, one-third (33%) of students use at least one type of Apple Desktop or Notebook, a share substantially higher than the national rate of 23%.
Google’s Chromebooks, although have achieved broad media attention, are only being actively used by very few users. Among adults using Notebooks acquired in the first half of 2016, Google’s share is 3%, and 4% for those acquired in 2015.
The Shifting Smartphone OS Share
Microsoft only has a sliver of the Smartphone market. The current installed base of Smartphones in the US is dominated by Google (Android) and Apple (iOS).
In the total active installed base, Google has a nearly-identical share to Apple.
Looking more deeply into which OS dominates newer phones in the US, Google has the largest share. Just over half – 55% – of Smartphones acquired in the first half of 2016 are using Google Android. That’s up from half (50%) of Smartphones acquired in 2015, and even lower shares in older Smartphones.
Windows Smartphones are ranked 3rd, with a nominal share that’s been declining.
The Shifting Tablet OS Share
Microsoft Windows has a fresher share of the installed base of actively used tablets than ever before. Despite that, Windows tablets are ranked 3rd behind Apple iOS and Google Android.
Apple’s iPad is the darling of Tablets, currently with the dominant share of the installed base of actively used tablets in the US.
However, Apple’s dominance has been challenged by both Microsoft and Google Android tablets. Apple’s share is still dominant among recently-acquired Tablets, and yet the trend isn’t favorable. Apple has its largest share among older tablets actively used in the installed base.
Google Android & Chrome OS tablets have a share growing towards Apple’s, and are a substantial threat to both Microsoft and Apple.
We’ve found predictive power in looking at tech purchase plans in the context of what they are already using. Among other factors, habit and inertia are strong among many consumers.
Google has some positive prospects. Consumers who have been avoiding Google devices make up the strongest segment planning to buy a Chromebook, and are relatively strong for Android Tablets and Smartwatches. It’s not surprising that another strong segment for Chromebooks are those avid tech device collectors who have all 3 major OS families – Windows, Apple, and Google.
Plans for Apple products, however, aren’t showing strong growth prospects outside of Apple’s base. Apple avoiders are one of the smallest segments with plans to buy an Apple iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch. There is home from the accumulators – those active consumers who are using all three OS.
Purchase plans for Microsoft Windows Smartphones are coming from a mixture of the converted and departed. Nearly as many are Google avoiders as have all 3 OS. Also Windows-only devotees have plans to stay within the fold for their next Smartphone.
Looking ahead, Microsoft’s recent desktop PC announcement with the Surface Studio was received favorably by many tech reporters and analysts. Although most likely to be bought by high-end creatives, technology-laden products like this can have a halo effect on franchises like Windows, lending them an advanced aura. This sizzle, in turn, can help stem the tide of users who have been switching away from Windows.
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.
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.