Women use tablets, men prefer Smart TVs, says revealing U.S. data

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Government data looks at Internet of Things, wearables, PCs and more

The U.S. government is collecting data about tech device use by age, education, sex, and other demographics and analyzing it -- and that data says some interesting things about technology use in America.

Take, for instance, the Internet of Things. About 7% of Internet users at least 15 years of age have used the Internet to control a thermostat, light bulb, security systems or some other household equipment, according to a government analysis released Tuesday. That amounts to about 13 million people.

The government also reported that 40% of wearable users live in households with family incomes above $100,000 -- and 52% are college graduates.

The data is from a survey of 53,000 households by the U.S. National Telecommunications & Information Administration. It was collected last year as a supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, which gathers labor force data.

For people willing to use the government "data explorer," there is much to be gleaned. This explorer was introduced late last year and recently updated with 2015 data.

The tool enables users to look at device usage, as well as the online shopping and work habits by sex, age group, income, race or ethnicity and other categories. Its insights will likely find a place in thousands of PowerPoint presentations and research papers.

The data also confirms some trends reported by market researchers, such as ongoing trouble in the PC market.

The number of people who reported using a desktop PC declined from about 131 million in 2011 to 104 million last year, according to the government data.

Desktop use is declining in all age groups except for people older than 65. In 2011, there were just over 13.2 million desktop users 65 or older; last year, there were nearly 16.3 million.

"Desktop computing is on rapid decline except for folks over 65, which suggests that as we age we tend to favor machines that we go to, not machines we take with us," said Rob Enderle, of the Enderle Group.

Even so, the number of people who say they use a laptop has risen over that same period, from 125 million in 2011 to nearly 141 million last year. People age 65 and older are big laptop users as well.

"The PC industry in general should love the 65-plus group because this group loves all PCs," said Enderle.

Not surprisingly, tablet and eReader use has taken off since 2011, but there's a distinct difference in use by sex. Approximately 50 million women last year used a tablet or eReader, compared to 39 million men.

However, Smart TV or connected device use is a favorite among men, with nearly 46.6 million of them using those devices compared to 36.6 million women.

The U.S. found that 42.5 million people were telecommuting last year, compared to just under 28 million in 2013.

"Current growth rates for telecommuting suggest a linear pattern that would have the majority of us working from home in around a decade," said Enderle. That suggests that "properties in places people want to live will become more valuable," he said.

This story, "Women use tablets, men prefer Smart TVs, says revealing U.S. data" was originally published by Computerworld.

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