Home PCs: the unsung heroes of remote work – Getting things done for work from home often demands using a computer. Activities from Webex or Zoom group meetings to creating presentations or reports benefit from using the larger screens of most computers. However, employers have been slow in providing PCs to remote employees. Just as they wavered in their commitment to supporting workers working from home, they’ve vacillated in their policies around providing technology to remote workers.
This MetaFAQs reports on the percentage of workers who use a home computer for work-related activities. Report [TUP_doc_2023_1111_hwrk] in TUP Lenses: PCs; User Profile; Households; Activities; Work/Life Balance
A sizeable share of the online public live alone, especially in Germany, yet also in the US, UK, and Japan. This research finding has implications for technology marketers, since our TUP data also shows that one-person households behave differently than those with many people, especially with children. Solo households buy technology products less often, have fewer products and services, and have different needs. Report [TUP_doc_2023_1107_alon] in TUP Lenses: User Profile; Households
Americans and Germans who live alone or with just one other person tend to have older devices compared to those in bigger households. For instance, 41% of Americans in households with four or more people got their main device in the last year. This is more than the 28% of Americans in smaller households of one or two people. This trend also holds true in Germany. But in the UK, Japan, and China, there’s less of a difference.
One factor behind this is that larger households often have kids. Having children in the household is linked to using technology more actively and being more open to new tech products and services. This MetaFAQs is based on TUP 2023 results.
“…as is often the case, we are navigating by the stars under cloudy skies.”
Jerome Powell – in an August 25, 2023 speech to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
To help our technology clients to navigate and create the future, we are pleased to announce that will soon be releasing results from the 41st annual wave of the ongoing TUP/Technology User Profile study. Four continuous decades of research results have helped guide most of the top technology firms with solid information. With its focus on understanding the people who use and enjoy technology products and services, the TUP study continues its mission of helping our clients create the future.
While most of our clients dive directly into the data and tables, we also offer our analysis. At present, we are analyzing the results, beginning by addressing the following questions. Many of these questions have been growing in importance for years, so we have earlier analysis and data available to provide a trend analysis and solid background on the changes in the market.
People are keeping their devices longer than ever, especially in the UK, Germany, and the US [TUP_doc_2023_0906_quad]
Actively using used/refurbished devices is prominent among adults in the UK and the US
Longer-term product trends
Smartwatches have gained moderate market penetration, although most buying and plans are for replacements and less so among first-time smartwatch users [TUP_doc_2023_0929_wrep]
Touchscreens and voice control have not gone mainstream for computers, even though they’re fundamental on smartphones
Foldables have gotten effectively nowhere, despite the early hype (do you remember?)
VR headsets are still a dream for the future (maybe Apple’s shift in positioning VR headsets for the mass market will open new doors) [TUP_doc_2023_0907]
Wearable cameras (e.g. GoPro) never really took off, although people certainly use their smartphones for photos and videos
Longer-term user trends
The phenomenon of actively using many devices has reversed and continues to slide as mainstream users consolidate their life’s activities on smartphones
Users age although not quite in the way many stereotypes portray: today’s active installed base is made up older adults than 10 or 20 years ago, as yesterday’s early adopters continue to deepen their use of technology products and services. This is especially the case in the US, Germany, UK, and Japan
Very few activities are exclusively done using computers or tablets
The vast majority (three in four) of American remote workers expect to be working from home in one year from now
Adults in larger households and with families continue to spend more time using their devices
Larger households and families continue their historical trend of using more technology devices and services than average
In 2023, we’re seeing a resurgence in tablets after a long slide. Is this a blip?
Those expecting to be working from home a year from now have stronger purchase plans, especially for desktop computers, tablets, and wearables
Moms are returning to the workforce
Even before remote working was boosted by Covid, fewer employers provided computers and relied on employees to bring their own devices
More employees use a home computer than use an employer-provided computer
In the UK, UK, Japan, and China, Millennials use PCs for more weekly hours than other generations
Working from home and Covid somehow hasn’t encouraged most employees to pay for employee’s phone service
The majority of online adults in the US, UK, Japan, and China own their dwelling. In Germany, most online adults rent.
A quarter of US, UK, and Japanese online adults only have one person in their households. In Germany, this share is higher and among online upper-SES adults in China, the share is smaller
Personal use of workplace printers was widespread (if not talked about) and had been interrupted by remote work. However, this did not boost home printing.
Seniors 55+ are a substantial share of the online population in the US, Germany, UK, and Japan [TUP_doc_2023_1013_seni]
Longer-term device trends
A declining share of people around the world are actively using computers or printers
There is a growing group of people using a home printer without a home PC, and instead printing wirelessly from their smartphone or tablet
Longer-term device activity trends
Collaboration still isn’t mainstream, although it’s getting stronger [TUP_doc_2023_0919]
Email is tied with phone calls as the most widespread communication method
Well over half of online adults regularly use their connected devices to play games, and the rate among Gen Z adults is over two-thirds
Zoom fatigue is very real (and not only evidenced by Zoom employees needing to curtail remote work)
Product and brand specifics
X/Twitter goofed up, or at least millions of people believe so by their lack of recent usage
Active use of wireless item trackers such as Tile or Apple AirTag has exceeded 10% of adults globally, and rate is twice as high among Gen Z adults.
X/Twitter self-disruption primarily benefited the Meta family
HP has the highest printer share among Americans, although among Gen Z adults, HP’s share is tied with Canon [TUP_doc_2023_1119]
Instagram Threads experienced a rapid uptake, primarily among existing Instagram users. Time will tell if it’s sustainable.
Android tablets have their highest share among Millennial and Gen Z adults, although among these generations Apple’s iPad has nearly twice that share
Dell’s focus & reliance on PCs has cost its market penetration
Over a third of American Gen Z adults use a PC acquired in the last 12 months, versus less than one in size Boomer/Silent generation adults
Twice the share of Gen Z American adults use an Apple Mac as their primary computer than Boomer/Silent generation Americans
HP’s elder user PC base has hurt and helped HP, as this group hasn’t included the most active buyers, although this group also hasn’t been quick to defect to other brands or platforms
Globally, three-fourths of online adults use a printer. Among Gen Z adults this rate is lower – two-thirds.
HP continues to dominate the printer market in the US, UK, and Germany. In China, HP still leads, although by a slim margin. In Japan, local brands continue to fare better.
Nearly two-thirds of Gen Z Americans actively use an Apple Mac, iPhone, or iPad, versus just under half of Gen X and older Americans
Half of Gen Z Americans actively use a game console, while only one in four Gen X adults do
Apple continues to have the broadest and largest ecosystem footprint, and it has continued to broaden
Half of American adults are using a smartphone that is 1.5 years old or newer. Among Gen Z American adults, the average smartphone is 15 months old.
Gen Z and Millennials are the strongest consumers of mobile printing services
Apple/Android smartphone platform switching/churning continues to be low
Apple Macs have twice the penetration among Gen Z adults as among Gen X and older adults
More of those Americans who print newsletters or greeting cards or wirelessly have printer purchase plans
Agewise, Apple’s active customer base is more like Nintendo’s or Sony’s than Dell’s, HP’s, or Lenovo’s
Apple’s best device customers, those that use two or more Apple devices (a Mac, iPhone, or iPad), skew younger.
Online adults in the UK and US have twice the rate of adults in Germany or Japan to have two or more Apple devices – an iPhone, Mac, or iPad.
Apple is most-used device for every one of the 1,802 Gen Z adults we surveyed across the US, Germany, UK, Japan, and China. (iPhone, Mac, or iPad)
A higher share of online Americans use voice commands with their primary device than online adults in the UK, Germany, or Japan. In the UK and Germany, earlier generations (Gen X, Boomers, Silent) have less-recent usage.
Larger households have newer primary devices, whether it is smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Globally, online adults aged 18 to 24 are twice as likely to be using an Apple Mac than adults who are aged 50 and up.
Only in the US are Apple laptops being used by as many adults aged 18 to 24 than use Windows PCs
iPads have made inroads with Germany’s younger adults, while older users are more Android-focused
In all countries surveyed except Germany, Apple’s iPhone has higher penetration among adults aged 18-34 than older adults. In Germany Android smartphones lead among online adults aged 25 and up.
Current observations about technology users
Not all of the youngest adults are the most active with their connected devices – the youngest employed adults are. Older adults not working outside of the home are the least active.
Americans have a lower employment rate (FT/PT) than other countries, partly due to self-employment and gig working
In the US, UK, and China, more workers work from home as do not. In Germany and Japan, it’s the opposite.
In the US and Germany, workers who work from home have higher incomes than those who don’t. This is driven by many factors, from educational attainment and socioeconomic privilege to the type of work people are doing.
Employees in IT/FIRE/Professional jobs use computers for more hours than employees in other industries
Workers who work from home use their connected devices for more hours than workers who do not work from home, which includes smartphones and tablets
In every country surveyed, older adults (50+) had the smallest share never working from home. In Germany, youngest adults also stand out for having never worked from home.
Each younger generation has a higher share that use a home computer for getting work done.
Over 40% of online adults in the US and UK do not expect to be working from home in one year from now. In Germany, the rate is 49%.
Half of online adults in the US and UK use a smartphone for any work-related activities.
In the US and Japan, there is not a significant age difference between workers who never work from home. In Germany and the UK, older workers are more likely to be never working from home.
In the US, UK, and Germany, older workers are more likely to say they expect to never work from home in a one year than younger workers.
Younger workers are more likely to collaborate on work files using a home computer than older workers.
Employees of medium and larger employers have a higher likelihood of never working from home than those working for smaller employers. Employees expect this situation to be similar in one year.
Workers in the IT/FIRE/Professional industries have the highest share that currently always work from home.
Unlike workers in the UK, Germany, Japan, or China, Americans have the highest share that always work from home or the majority of the time
Almost half of online American workers who work from home use a home computer for work-related activities. [TUP_doc_2023_1111]
More workers in the US, Germany, Japan, and China use a home computer for work activities than use an employer-provided computer. For workers in the UK, the share is effectively the same.
Globally, whether someone uses any PC or not does not vary substantially with age. Among online American and Japanese adults, the skew is towards older users. In the UK and Japan, the opposite is true.
Use of game consoles is very related to age. Twice or as many as six times the share of online adults aged 18 to 24 actively use a game console as compared to those aged 50 and up.
Apple home computers are used more often among adults age 18 to 24 than older adults in the US, Germany, and UK. In Japan, Apple’s market penetration is similar by age groups.
Globally, whether someone actively uses a home computer or not does not vary substantially with age. Among online American, German, and Japanese adults, the skew is towards older users. In the UK and Japan, the opposite is true. [TUP_doc_2023_1121]
Among online adults in the US and UK, active printer use is highest among older adults. In Japan, it’s highest among the youngest and oldest age groups. Among upper-SES adults in China, penetration is highest among adults aged 25 to 49.
Workers in larger companies are more likely to use a work printer than those working in smaller companies.
Globally, younger adults use a computer they have acquired more recently than those used by older adults.
Younger online adults in the US are more likely to be using a used/refurbished PC than a new one. [TUP_doc_2023_1101]
Younger adults are more likely to be using a used/refurbished smartphone than older adults
Japan has the lowest active printer penetration rate of the countries surveyed, while Germany has the highest.
Worldwide, younger adults (age 18-24) use their devices for more hours than older adults. This is driven in large part by the youthful enthusiasm of younger upper-SES Chinese adults, and extra-active Germans balancing out their less-intensive although numerous older counterparts
In the US, UK, and among China’s upper-SES adults, total smartphone hours surpass hours using computers. In Germany and Japan, total computer hours lead.
Worldwide and in each country surveyed, the most-used combination of devices is to have a home computer, a smartphone, and no tablet. Having all three of these or only a smartphone are 2nd and 3rd and nearly equal. In Germany and China, using only a smartphone is ranked a distant 3rd. Conversely, in Japan, using all three is a distant 3rd. There is no significant difference by age group.
Pre-pandemic (TUP 2019) through the current time (TUP 2023)
A return to vigor among technology consumers?
Will 2023 herald the return of dynamism to market demand among consumers for technology products and services? Early adopter technology attitudes are showing a positive correlation with how consumers feel and what they believe and their purchasing behavior.
Working from home
How many online adults work from home now? What are employees’ expectations about working from home in one year? How many adults use home PCs for work? Which technology do people working from home use? What online activities stand out for those working from home? How do those new to working from home differ from seasoned remote employees?
How prevalent are computers as the primary type of device for major types of activities? How prevalent are tablets as the primary type of device for major types of activities? How has the mix of devices shifted by type of activity?
In 2023, we’re seeing a return to life for tablets
What are the major communication activities using any of the user’s connected devices? Which activities (e.g. work video meetings a’la Zoom) have dropped to before-pandemic levels? Which type of device is used for the most communication activities?
How has the market penetration for Apple/non-Apple computers, smartphones, and tablets shifted? What are the purchase intentions for Apple iPhones versus other smartphones? What are the purchase intentions for Apple Watch and non-Apple smart watches?
How have brand footprints shifted? What is the profile of HP’s PC customers? What is the profile of Dell’s customers? What is the profile of Samsung’s customers? What is the size and profile of Apple’s customers – for their iPhones, Macs, iPads, and other offerings?
How has tech use changed for key segments? How has tech use changed for employees? How has tech use changed for college students? How has tech use changed for parents? How has tech use changed for seniors? How has tech use changed for Baby Boomers? How has tech use changed for Generation Z?
Which American generation has the largest collection of connected devices? How much does each generation have of the active installed base? How has this shifted between 2021 and 2022?
This TUP analysis reports on the total number of connected devices – mobile phones, PCs, tablets, and game consoles – by generational cohort – Gen Z, Younger/Older Millennials, Younger/Older Gen X, Younger/Older Boomers, and before.
Windows laptop/notebook computers have declined in use during the pandemic, especially among traditionally disadvantaged groups of Americans. No traditionally disadvantaged groups have higher market penetration rates than those historically advantaged. Employment status is a major factor associated with Windows laptop usage, less so than age.
This TUPdate looks at the profile of American adults who currently use a Windows laptop/notebook along several lines: the socioeconomic group they are part of, their life stage, employment status, and age.
Sweeping user shifts may be ahead for home tablets. Usage rates have been dropping since 2018 across most market groups. The strongest interest in purchasing a home tablet is among a very different set of Americans than are currently using them. Purchase plans point to a younger user profile, especially those employed and with children.
This MetaFAQs profiles active adult users of home tablets by age, gender, life stage, and employment status. The sociodemographic analysis includes traditionally advantaged and disadvantage groups. It also reports on those who are planning to buy a home tablet.
Apple home computers grew in usage during the pandemic only to shrink below pre-pandemic levels. The shape and composition of the active Apple home computer user base shifted away from historically advantaged and younger Americans.
This TUPdate looks at the profile of American adults who currently use a personally owned home Apple computer along several lines: the socioeconomic group they are part of, their life stage, employment status, and age.
Windows PCs have declined in use during the pandemic, especially among traditionally disadvantaged groups of Americans. No traditionally disadvantaged groups have higher market penetration rates than those historically advantaged. Older employed Americans have sustained their Windows PC use while rates among Gen Z adults have plummeted.
This TUPdate looks at the profile of American adults who currently use a Windows PC along several lines: the socioeconomic group they are part of, their life stage, employment status, and age.
Fewer Americans actively use a home Windows PC than in 2018 before the pandemic. With each passing year, Americans in nearly every sociodemographic group have reduced their active use of a Windows PC home computer. Seniors and traditionally advantaged Americans stand out for having the highest penetration rates.
This TUPdate looks at the profile of American adults who currently use a personally owned home Windows PC along several lines: the socioeconomic group they are part of, their life stage, employment status, and age.