Tag Archives: Trends

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

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

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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.

Resources

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.

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

Hold the phone – PCs rebound for communication among one segment (MetaFAQs)

Which segment uses which device for their primary communication device more than a Smartphone or Basic cell phone?metafacts-metafaqs-mq0065-mobile-phone-primacy-for-communication-by-segment-2016-11-08_09-34-11

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.metafacts-metafaqs-mq0065-primary-communiction-device-for-employed-younger-2016-11-08_09-34-11

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).

For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Communication, Convertibles, Desktops, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Smartphones, Trends, TUP 2016

Apple’s Long March into the Majority (TUPdate)

Apple’s Long March into the Majority – Dan Ness, October 27, 2016
td1609-apple-penetration-2016-10-25-1311
For the first time in tech history, Apple has reached the half-way mark in the active installed base. As of our 2016 wave of the TUP survey, 52% of connected adults are using either an Apple Macintosh, iPhone, or iPad. This overall penetration statistic reflects that at least one key Apple device is in the hands of over half of the market.

Apple’s achievement has been from multiple successes – not only one blockbuster. In fact, just as all boats rise together on the same tide, each of Apple iPad, iPhone, and Macs have attained greater market penetration.

The iPhone has lead the charge, passing one-fourth of U.S. connected adults in 2015 to reach 36% in 2016. The iPad has experienced the most dramatic growth, stretching beyond one in five adults in 2015 to 29% in 2016. Of the three key devices, the Apple Mac and MacBooks are starting to mark their mark beyond their prior return customers. Having been strong among students and mobile employees for some time, especially MacBooks, both Apple notebooks and desktops are reaching a wider audience.
metafacts-td1609-apple-device-penetration-2016-10-25-1305

Apple has achieved this in part through balancing proprietary designs with open standards. To encourage and support use by users of only one of Apple’s key devices, each one needs to play well with other competitive products. For example, iPhone and Android Smartphone users need to be able to communicate with each other. Although Apple hasn’t fully opened their iMessage system, basic text messaging works cross-platform. iPad users need to be able to easily browse web pages with as much ease as on a Windows or Android Tablet, even while Apple famously avoided enabling Adobe Flash. Mac users need to be able to share documents with Windows users, and that’s smoother than ever.

Apple’s growing penetration has also been one of expanding breadth. Now effectively half (49%) of Apple’s customers have two or more of Apple’s key devices. Only one year ago, in 2015, only 41% had that many. The most demonstrably loyal Apple customers have the full collection of these three key devices. This continues to be a small group, at 15% of Apple’s customers for these devices, and yet this is a growing group.

Diving into the combinations
To get a more complete understanding into the dynamics, I dove more deeply into the TUP data. One fruitful dimension of our custom forecasting analysis is based on what users have. For most tech products and service, buyers begin with what they have. The current set of products has a strong impact on shaping future choices. For example, when consumers mull buying a tablet, those already using both an Apple Mac and iPhone are more likely to include an iPad in their consideration set than those with no Apple devices at all. They’re also more likely to have an ongoing connection with Apple, even if it’s limited to periodic operating system updates. Similarly, those with any single Apple device are more likely than non-users to at least consider an additional Apple device. Of course, this isn’t automatically true, since in some cases in can backfire if users are having bad experiences with the product, brand, or in this case, the OS ecosystem.

The largest group based on combinations of Apple devices – those who are only using an iPhone, and not an iPhone or iPad. This group has been largest since 2014. Those who have added an iPad to go along with their iPhone have brought this 2-Apple-device combination to be the 2nd-largest. Perhaps surprisingly, the 3rd-largest Apple-device combination is the set of users who have all three. Although this Apple-intense group only represents 8% of all connected adults, it’s grown from being 4% only one year prior.metafacts-td1609-apple-combo-penetration-2016-10-25-1157

Into the [main] stream
With Apple’s move into the majority, will it be harder for Apple to be perceived as elite, special, and “different”?

Even in the 1980’s when I was researching markets for Apple, the company was different and special. From its beginning, Apple appealed to and reached a small share of the market. There have always been certain segments of the market where Apple has dominated at least some of the time, such as among creatives in graphics, marketing, and education.

We are conducting additional analysis of technology users by their employment role and industry, to see where other TUP results point to strongthening or weakening Apple adoption through buyer’s purchase intentions, refresh rates for PCs (Macs), Smartphones, and Tablets, socioeconomic factors, and many other factors.

Looking ahead
We expect Apple’s expansion to continue, although not with as high growth rates as in the past. In the tablet business, Microsoft’s Surface has made recent inroads, such that 12% of connected adults are using a Windows Tablet. Google Android Tablets are also a strong force, being actively used by 17%.

With the recent refresh of the MacBook line, Apple stands to continue its broadening penetration. The foremost  buyers will come from within the ranks of current MacBook and Apple desktops users. We expect a smaller percentage of buyers to come from the ranks of current Windows Notebook users. Stronger yes will be those users with at least one Mac, iPad, or iPhone.

This trope can finally be truthfully said: these segments are Apple’s low-hanging fruit.

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.

Resources

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.

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Filed under Market Research, Market Segmentation, Market Sizing, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, Technology adoption, TUP 2016, TUPdate