Tag Archives: Trends

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.

Leave a comment

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

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.

Leave a comment

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Basic cell phones, Consumer research, Desktops, Devices, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Operating systems, Printers, Smartphones, Trends, TUP 2016, TUPdate

Tablet-First. Is it a thing? (TUPdate)

Tablet-First. Is it a thing? – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, February 17, 2017

Which comes first – Smartphone? Tablet? Notebook? For a small and steadily growing segment, the tablet comes first as the primary connected device.

Over the last three years, the share of connected adults using a tablet as their primary device has expanded. In our 2014 wave of TUP, we found that 6% of adults were using a tablet as their primary device – before a PC, mobile phone, or game console. In TUP 2015, the Tablet-First rate had grown to 7% and by TUP 2016, reached 9%.MetaFacts-td1702-tablet-first-trend-metafacts-tup-2014-2016-2017-02-16_10-02-19

It’s not as if these Tablet-First users are only using a tablet. Among Tablet-First users, half (50%) use a Smartphone as their secondary device, followed distantly by a Tower Desktop (15%), Basic cell phone (10%), and Notebook PC (9%). Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Consumer research, Entertainment, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Shopping, Tablets, TUP 2016, TUPdate

Tech Purchase Plans – Some Wins and Some Fails (TUPdate)

Tech Purchase Plans – some wins and some fails – a TUPdate by Dan Ness

Some tech products seem to be on everyone’s shopping list, and yet that’s not really the case. Well, certainly smartphones and mobile PCs rank near the top, as they have for years. However, several highly-publicized products haven’t ranked in the top 20 while other less-acclaimed standbys continue to rank well.

Smartwatches by anyone except Apple or Google? Home Thermostats? Chromebooks? They’re not in the top 20, languishing along with basic feature phones. Only a small number of tech buyers are showing true interest.

Diving into the purchase plans from our most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP 2016), we’ve identified some very interesting patterns.

What are the top-planned tech products?

Smartphones top the list of purchase plans, with the majority being among those who already use a smartphone. Gaming PCs are strong, with Gaming Desktop PCs drawing nearly triple the interest of Gaming Notebook PCs. Traditional Notebooks continue to rank strongly, while other mobile PC plans are split between 2-in-1 and convertible designs.metafacts-top-30-plans-2016-12-08_16-51-01

Fitness trackers show promise, handily outranking plans for smartwatches by Apple, Google, or any of the many languishing others.

Two products continuing to show steady demand are the venerable Printer and Tower Desktop. Both continue to be ranked in the top 10 for interest.

Apple’s iPad continues to show solid interest, benefiting from recent product refreshes. Plans for Android tablets, however, don’t measure up to Apple’s.

Hits for key segments

What’s interesting is that most tech plans are not evenly spread across all technology users, and instead several key segments have plans that stand out from the pack.

Any tech purchase plans by age

One simple difference between those planning and those not planning – age. Tech purchase plans are stronger among younger than older adults.metafacts-plans-overall-by-age-2016-12-07_15-53-38

Younger adults have stronger plans to purchase any of the 30 tech products we surveyed respondents about. Adults age 30-34 are the peak group with overall purchase plans, with 77% planning to buy at least one product in the coming year. At the other end of the age spectrum, adults age 70 or above are the nadir group with respect to purchase plans, with 29% planning to buy any of the surveyed tech products.

Sigma analysis show youthful intensity

A summation analysis reveals stronger purchase intensity among younger than older adults. The sigma – summation of the plans for all of the respective tech products – shows that adults age 30-39 have the strongest plans of any age group. This is a more intensive curve than the above penetration analysis, reflecting the much broader range of plans among younger adults.metafacts-plans-summation-by-age-2016-12-07_15-53-38

The six most-age-skewed tech products

Six tech products stand out for being age-skewed – with the largest differences between plans among older and younger adults.

Gaming Desktop PCs are at the top of the list, with respect to the widest difference between those with and without plans by age groups. It’s not as if these tricked-out desktops are only pulled towards the youngest among us. The group with the strongest plans are adults age 30-34, which reflects in part that these older adults have the means to pay for these more-powerful PCs. It is also due in part that older adults have more PC usage and experience, with productivity activities as in game planning.

Smartphones – both Apple iPhones and Androids – are more popular with younger than older adults. Since younger adults have higher penetration of smartphone usage than older adults, this reflects a strong replacement market. Conversely, low interest levels also reflects a low likelihood for the smartphone market to strengthen its penetration among older adults.metafacts-age-skewed-plans-by-age-2016-12-07_16-23-42

PC purchase intentions are strongest among age 35-39 adults for more than one PC form factor. This reflects the desire for expanded PC use among this important segment, and also this group’s openness to have PCs which are packaged in different formats.

Something for each, but not every, age group
There’s something for everybody. Each age group has its preferences, with some products at the top of mind of nearly every age group. While looking at the top three ranked products within each age group, we found some interesting patterns. Apple’s iPhone is singular because it’s top-ranked in all groups – in the top three for all 11 age groups. Android Smartphones aren’t very far behind, being top-ranked in 9 groups. That the two oldest groups didn’t report Android Smartphones on their future purchase list may be due in part to the phone or carrier brand having stronger recognition than the Google Android operating system.

Three tech products are strongest among generally older groups – traditional notebooks, printers, and fitness trackers. That 7 of the 11 age groups rank traditional notebooks in the top of their shopping list bodes well for the venerable PC.

Although wearables such as Apple’s Watch and Google Wear have garnered much media attention, neither are in the top three for any age group. One wearable is, though, and it’s fitness trackers. Despite advertising often featuring slim younger women in yoga pants, fitness trackers only rank among the top three items for adults who are age 70 and above. This category is partly an example of aspirational marketing, appealing to those who want to be something they aren’t (yet).

  • The Apple iPhone is among the top 3 for all 11 age groups
  • Android Smartphone – ranked in 9 age groups – younger adults
  • Traditional Notebook – ranked in 7 groups – older adults
  • Printer – ranked in 4 age groups – generally older adults
  • Gaming Desktop PC – ranked in 4 age groups – younger adults
  • Fitness Tracker – only ranks in the top 3 in one age group – age 70+

The six most-spending-skewed tech products

Six tech products stand out based on analysis of consumer tech spending by quartiles. Top spenders – those in the top 1/4th of total household tech spending – are above average in their purchase plans for nearly every tech product. What’s interesting are the tech products which have captured above average interest among the next tier of buyers – those that are in the 3nd-highest quartile of total tech spending.

Within this spending segment, the six tech products which show above-average plans include three Apple products, three wearables, and a fun-oriented category.

The uniquely-strong products from Apple include the iPhone, iPad, and Watch. Apple’s regular product line refresh has helped keep interest high.metafacts-plans-by-spend-2016-12-07_14-32-45

Interestingly, interest for fitness trackers outpaces smartwatches, even among the biggest spenders. This supports, in part, the notion that cost would be a primary barrier to smartwatch adoption. Even more so, it reflects the early stage wearables have in the user’s device collection. There is still plenty of experimentation ahead, as entrants come and go, as ecosystems flower and fade, and mostly as more mainstream users integrate wearable devices into their regular activities.

What you have today – and what you’ll have next – Plans by current device combination
Our research continues to show that future tech purchases are strongly affected by consumer’s current products. Two device combinations stand out as those with the strongest tech purchase plans. Users with a desktop, notebook, mobile, and a tablet make up 31% of connected adults, and those with a notebook, tablet, and mobile phone are 10% of adults. Users with other combinations have tech purchase plans below average.

Five tech products stand out by having stronger-than-average plans among these two popular combos. The Apple iPhone tops the list, with 13% of all connected adults planning to buy one. For those with all four devices – desktop, notebook, tablet, and mobile phone – 19% plan to get an Apple iPhone, well above the average. Those juggling three devices – notebook, tablet, and mobile phone – are also above average in planning to get an Apple iPhone, with 16% planning to get one.metafacts-plans-by-combo-2016-12-07_15-47-47

Purchase plans for traditional notebooks are also strong, and in this case strongest among this 2nd-ranked combination, representing an additional or replacement notebook for 13% of adults. Plans for the largest combination segment are also stronger than average, at 11% of these adults.

Other above tech products for both of these device-combination segments include a Fitness Tracker such as a FitBit, an Apple iPad, and an Android Tablet.

Looking ahead
Looking ahead, we expect the tech-device-rich to get tech-richer, with those who have the broadest collection of technology products and services to remain within that segment of super-tech users. Wearables are still having a tough time finding interest among a broad market, much less finding broad adoption.

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.

Numerous TUP sections feature analysis of spending plans. These include the Overview, Age Ranges, Age, Gender, Adoption Summary, PC Adoption, Mobile Phone Adoption, Adoption Years, Device Combinations, Primary and Secondary Devices, Devices OS Ecosystems, Brand Footprint, Key Devices, Key Devices/OS, Home-Family PCs, Recently Purchase PCs, Purchase Year, Tablets, Mobile Phones, Smartphone, Basic cell phone, Smartphone Data, Lines, Spending, Wearable Technology, Hearables/Listening, TVs, Music Players, and Social Networks sections.

Comments Off on Tech Purchase Plans – Some Wins and Some Fails (TUPdate)

Filed under Consumer research, Desktops, Market Research, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, Technology adoption, TUP 2016