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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

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

Myth or Fact? Smartphones have replaced PCs

“Smartphones have replaced PCs”

Is it a myth or is it reality?

The tech industry gets a lot of its juice from myths. After all, creating a future can rely on science fiction and imagination when there isn’t any better information.

However, when things aren’t moving as quickly as hoped or seeming as certain as during the early ’80’s or late 90’s, then it’s worth it to check the myths to see how far along they are towards reality.

One decades-old story features handheld, wearable, or tablet technology that displaces and replace desktop and notebook PCs. Today, the closest thing to that vision is the Smartphone, from the venerable RIM Blackberry to Apple’s iPhone and the flock of Android, Symbian, and Windows-based mobile phones.

While the ever-enthusiastic band of designers, engineers, early adopters and fanboys will describe, ad perpetuam, the many capabilities available in the newest smartphones, what actual users end up actually using often falls short of what is possible. It’s the gap between the possible and the reality where the seriously interested can understand when and how which segment of the market will and won’t adopt technology.

True veterans of the technology industry have seen many grand castles in the air fade into the mist.

Based on our latest waves of Technology User Profile surveys, it’s too early to declare the PC dead. In fact, at present, PCs are more engrained in American’s everyday lives than ever.

The MetaFacts: At present, Smartphone users use more PCs than other adults, and they PCs they use, they use for more activities than other adults (including communication activities)

The MetaFacts: A higher share of Smartphone users say their computer is even more useful than in the previous year.

The MetaFacts: One in four Smartphone users feel their current computer is outdated, and this is the same percentage among users of Basic Mobile Phones.

So, even though Smartphones are increasingly getting closer to the capabilities of PCs, based on how people actually use their Smartphones, it’s too early to declare that this particular myth “Smartphones have replaced PCs” as a reality.

Further Resources

This particular TUPdate draws on the recently released Technology User Profile Overview Report. Contact MetaFacts for more information.

To see other coverage of communication – from cell phones to PC with social networking, chat and webcams – see the other communication-oriented questions TUP covers.

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 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 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, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Tech Market, Technology User Overview Report, Trends, TUP 2010

TUPdate: Mouse Potato or Couch Potato? Interactive Fun Draws TV Viewers Ever Towards PCs

At the same time Americans are buying ever-bigger TVs, they are turning their attention to smaller screens – those on their PCs. In the 2008 Annual Edition of Technology User Profile, we found that 57% of Home PC Households agree with this statement: “I spend more time using my computer than watching TV.” Only one year ago, this percentage was less than half – 45%. What is the significance of this increasingly defined divide?

The draw to the PC away from TV stems from – where else? – Entertainment. Nearly four times as many PC-focused Americans as TV-focused ones say “I keep finding more ways to use the internet for fun,” with 76% of PCers and 20% of TVers in agreement. Also, 89% of PCers surveyed agree: “The Internet is a big part of my home entertainment,” compared with 36% of TVers.

Also, hands-on interactivity is a major draw, as the PC-focused go beyond simply pushing a few buttons on their remote controls. PC-focused Americans engage in uniquely proactive, leading-edge, and niche activities more often than TV-focused Americans do. Substantially more PCers participate in interactive chatting (47% PCers, 19% TVers), social networking (35% PCers, 12% TVers), and web publishing (15% PCers, 3% TVers) than do their TV-focused counterparts.

Furthermore, PCers use their PCs and the Internet for a wider range of activities, averaging 18 different activities compared with 11 on average among TVers. This reflects a self-reinforcing effect, as people discover more things they can do with their personal computers, the more they weave them into their daily lives, and then they are able to discover yet more activities of interest.

Although there are myths that the web is primarily frequented by young millennials, there are no strong demographic differences between those who identify as PC-focused and those who consider themselves TV-focused. These interactivity-seeking PC users are young and old, male and female, and high-income as well as low-income.

Looking ahead, we don’t agree with straight-lining pundits who forecast mass migration of eyeballs to the ever-tinier screens of mobile phones and PDAs. Instead, as we’ve watched technology adoption these last 2 decades, we stick with a whole-person view. There are brains and fingers attached to those eyeballs.

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Filed under Consumer research, Households, Market Research, Statistics, Technology, TUP 2007, TUP 2008, TUPdate

TUPdate:Senior Couples Leading the Way with In-Car Navigation

Maybe they tried to ask for directions, or maybe they didn’t, but married active seniors appear to have been lost often enough and badly enough that they’re willing to pay money to avoid repeating the experience-because on average they are more than twice as likely to own or be planning to buy an in-car navigation system than other Americans. Younger folks, however, are not totally lost (ahem) to the technology.

Current in-car navigation systems marry GPS receivers with online map displays to show where the car is at a given moment. Then, anyone with basic map-reading skills can more easily find their way to their destination, whether it is day or night. MetaFacts, Inc., was able to identify this surprise market segment and gauge the market potential of this latest automotive accessory by analyzing responses to questionnaires from its large-scale Technology User Profile survey.

Married active seniors are 213 percent of the national average in their usage or near-term purchase intent for an in-car GPS. Older empty-nesters (or the single-income-no-kids crowd) are the next most likely, being won over to the technology at a rate that’s 153 percent higher than average.

Why is this important?

The early adopters for new technology aren’t always young, urban hipsters. Any technology marketers that put all their energies in the wrong direction will simply miss the mark. The other side of an old marketing adage goes: when someone finds a need, they’ll fill it. With newly-emerging portable navigation devices (PNDs), consumers that don’t want to wait for Detroit will simply bypass the automakers and get an aftermarket product from their computer store, cellular carrier, or other wireless supplier.

It’s not as if the typically-targeted youthful early adopters are out of the picture for in-car GPS. Adoption and interest among younger, affluent singles were 127 percent of the national average. Affluent traditional families were neck and neck with affluent, older singles, rating, respectively, 119 percent and 118 percent. Single parents were not far behind at 112 percent.

But keep in mind that while we are talking about a tidy business-3.3 million households that own or plan to soon buy a system-demand for in-car systems remains well short of a tidal wave. Those “you can’t get there from here” jokes are not about to become obsolete. The technology’s comparative popularity among married active seniors still means that only about one in nine are interested. But that’s wildly better than the national average of 5.2 percent-or slightly better than one in 20-who are interested in the technology.

The other 95 percent of the market are finding other solutions. They either only drive in familiar territory so know their way, download maps in advance from sites like RandMcNally, Mapquest, or maps.google, or have a notebook or handheld with either a GPS receiver or in-car Internet connection. Alternatively, they simply have a traditional paper map, or when that fails, stop and ask for directions. With the exception of using the last approach or having an in-car Internet connection, the other approaches don’t help much when you change your destination somewhere along the way, or somehow get off course.

Meanwhile, while married active seniors lead the way, being old in and of itself does not appear sufficient to trigger interest for in-car GPS-the demographic classification that displayed the least interest in the technology were the single heads of households who were at least 75 years old. With an interest rate of 2.4 percent, they were less than half the average. Nor does having a spouse along to nag you cause the interest to skyrocket-married heads of households who were at least 75 years old had nearly the same score, at 2.5 percent. Single active seniors were also comparative holdouts, at 3.3 percent. Evidently, the “married active” in “married active seniors” is the key-both husband and wife like to get out and travel, and have mutually decided that an in-car GPS is a worthwhile investment to enhance their travel experience.

Other notable holdouts were low to middle income older singles, and both young and older low-to-middle income empty nesters. Presumably, they travel only for business. Both working parents and low-to-middle income traditional families also fell below average in their interest in in-car GPS—presumably, they have family members to assume the chore of reading a paper map, or leaving the car to enter a diner and ask for directions. DINKs (double income no kids) were slightly below average. Perhaps, with no children to pack along, they can afford to fly to their destinations.

Looking ahead, as cell phones and other technologies emerge to challenge satellite-based GPS as the locational technology, consumers will have a wider range of options. This will put pressure on automakers to move more quickly, lest aftermarket wireless solutions pass them by. Senior couple pioneers that navigated the way will in turn be followed by younger early adopters, just as early cell phone adopters enjoyed not needing to find a pay telephone and bypassed the laggards.

 

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