Tag Archives: TUP 2005

PC Hours Continue to Climb

News flash: even more recent updates to this information are available to subscribers to the full Technology User Profile service.

Where do you spend your waking hours?

For most Americans, looking at a computer screen is the growing answer.

More of Americans’ time is with their computers – both at home and in the workplace. On average, Americans spent 25.9 hours a week using their PCs in 2005, up from 24.5 hours a week two years earlier. Both home and workplace PC usage levels have continued to grow in the last two years.

Why is this important?

As Americans integrate computers even further into their lives, the implications are wide-ranging, from their ergonomics and health, to privacy and national security, and even social interaction and consumerism. Besides the PC, software, and Internet companies, it also impacts media such as TV and radio that chase the attention of Americans’ eyeballs.

The total number of hours Americans use computers has climbed to 6.5 billion hours per week in 2005, up from 4.8 billion hours in 2004 and 4.3 billion hours in 2003. This is significant, representing 1 out of 7 total hours in a week, up from 1 of 12 only two years prior. To put this further into perspective, this is 20% of all waking hours, up from 13% only two years prior.

In the workplace, some occupational groups use computers much more than others. It’s hardly a surprise that Computer-Related occupations lead all Americans in their use of work computers, with an average of 37.6 hours per week. Since this is nearly all of a standard 40-hour workweek, we have to wonder if they’re having their lunches at their desks. More likely they’re working more hours than average.

Employees in Accounting & Finance jobs also use computers more than most, at 35.2 hours per week on average. In their case, it’s about spreadsheets – lots of spreadsheets. 79% of these employees cite spreadsheets as a regular computer activity, compared with 36% of other PC users.

At the other end of the spectrum, some occupational groups use computers less often, at nearly half the rate of the busiest. Of the Construction/Labor employees that use a work computer, the average is 21 hours per week. This is only slightly higher than the lowest group, Education/Training, who stand at 20.6 hours per week. Evidently, instructors spend more time in front of the classroom instead of their computer.

There are numerous factors that explain why Americans continue to increase their PC usage. Like the adaptable Swiss Army knife, the PC can be used for a wide range of activities reasonably well. Meanwhile, function-specific products, although technically superior at their core tasks, fail to convince convenience-hungry Americans. For example, cell phones have higher penetration than PCs, although are still primarily used for communication, despite efforts to entice callers to expand their handset experience to play games, take pictures, and organize their lives. They even have to compete with the PC as a communication device. Only a small number of Americans, 14%, agree with the statement “I Would Rather Use a Telephone Than Email.”

Even though TV media continue to vie for American’s eyeballs, a large number of Americans aren’t fully convinced. Nearly a third, 31%, agree with the statement “I Spend More Time Using my Computer Than Watching TV” and 28% agree that “The Internet is a Big Part of My Home Entertainment.”

Although the primacy of the PC isn’t assured forever, Americans continue to find ways for their PCs to be a big and growing part of their lives. This is a good sign for the health of the computer industry.

Average Hours Using a PC Continues to Climb

Total Hours Americans Use PCs

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Filed under Consumer research, Households, Market Research, Statistics, Tech Market, Technology, Trends, TUP 2005

Online and Retail Shopping – Not All Buyers Fit in the Same Big Box

Many dot-com pundits spelled the death of brick-and-mortar retail years ago. Consumers of technology products were assumed to be tech-savvy enough to skip visiting their local Wal-Mart. However, many consumers enjoy the social aspect of shopping, while at the same time others have integrated the web into their shopping process.Now that over half (50.1%) of Americans with home PCs agree that “My computer is a big part of my life,” it should be no surprise that it plays a big part in their shopping behavior. This is based on 7,958 households with Home PCs that were surveyed as part of the most recent MetaFacts Technology User Profile survey.

American consumers have been well-trained to wait for lower prices. Technology companies have further reinforced this through continued emphasis on “the next big thing.”

Nearly 8 times as many consumers agree than disagree with the statement “I hold off on buying technology products until their prices come down.” More than four in ten (41%) of home computer owners agreed with this statement, while one in twenty (5%) disagreed.

Best Buy customers aren’t as hesitant about shopping for technology products as are customers of other major retailers. Perhaps the “Geek Squad” has helped. Just over a third (36%) of Best Buy shoppers agree, much less than the 43% of Wal-Mart and Walgreens shoppers. Nearly ten times as many Wal-Mart and Walgreens shoppers agree than disagree with the above statement.

Further, retail consumers are strongly incorporating the web into their shopping, even while some shoppers strongly value the social interaction of shopping.

Why is this important?

As technology product shoppers transform what they value – low prices, brands, social interaction – as well as their sophistication with integrating the web into their buying processes – then this can split the market into pieces. This can leave some retailers following their customers, instead of the other way around.

There’s a sizable group that have integrated the Internet into their retail buying process. Over a third (35%) of American shoppers prefer to do their buying research online and then purchase in person. This is four times as high a rate as among those that don’t. Among the major retailers, Best Buy has attracted most of these, with 41% that agree while 7% disagree.

Low prices resonate with many buyers. Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) agree with the statement “low prices are more important than brand names.” Almost three times as many agree than disagree. 14% of Barnes & Noble online buyers disagree that low prices are more important than brand names, a small number, but the largest among the national online and retail outlets. The national rate is 11%.

Many buyers value in-person social interaction in their shopping process. 29% of shoppers with home PCs agree with the statement “I enjoy shopping in person because I can talk with and meet people,” compared with 15% that disagree.

Dell or Amazon shoppers are less interested in the social value of shopping than most other consumers. More Dell & Amazon customers disagree than agree. One-fifth (21% of Dell and 20% of Amazon shoppers) disagree, higher than the 15% national rate.

We expect the market to further splinter as Americans continue to learn and evolve how they buy consumer electronics. As the Internet becomes more integral in certain American’s lives, they will be very different from who they are today. At the same time, shoppers who haven’t embraced the web or have pulled the plug will be taking completely different shopping approaches, further frustrating those retailers attempting to fit all buyers into the same big box.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, Technology, TUP 2005