Do the “Best Technologies” Make Older Ones Better?


The technological world moves incredibly fast, with cutting edge trends sometimes getting pushed to the edge of the information and entertainment superhighway almost before the digital ink of their announcements has dried. Netbooks, for example, seemed to be the next big thing for a short time until falling victim to their own limited capabilities. E-readers have faced speculation that they may follow a similar trend, though the jury is still out on this category, with 17% of U.S. adults owning one.

In fact, adopters of new technology appear reluctant to let go of the old, with those owning key tech items in many cases over-indexing (when compared to the general U.S. adult population) on ownership for some of the very pieces of less cutting edge technology these devices threaten to replace.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,345 adults surveyed online between April 10 and 15, 2013 by Harris Interactive as part of a quarterly “Tech Tracker” intended to act as a barometer of technology ownership and interactions among U.S. adults; the tracking study began in January of 2013, though some results reference data collected in May and September of 2012. (Full findings and data tables available here)

Android and iPhone ownership up, but smartphones’ impending replacement of digital cameras in question

Ownership of both Android powered smartphones (26%) and iPhones (22%) has risen considerably since May of last year (18% and 17%, respectively); Android ownership is also up slightly since January (23%), while iPhone ownership is comparable to its January level (21%).

There’s been much talk of whether smartphones are reaching a point where they can replace stand-alone digital cameras, and reports of diminishing digital camera sales would appear to support this.  However, while these sales drops may or may not be attributable directly to smartphones, smartphone owners are at least as likely as the national average to currently own a point and shoot type digital camera (58%, vs. 56% of U.S. adults) and are nearly 30% more likely than the national average to own a digital SLR camera (22%, vs. 17% of U.S. adults).

Most streaming viewers still swimming with traditional TV providers as well

Another area where new tech appears to be acting more as an addition to the status quo than a replacement to it is streaming viewership.  Although those Americans subscribing to one or more streaming services (24% Netflix, 11% Amazon Prime, 5% Hulu Plus) are a bit less likely than the general population to subscribe to either a cable or satellite TV service (75% among U.S. adults, 70% among streaming subscribers), seven in ten are still embracing the traditional model of TV  consumption.

Tablet owners – the ultimate tech consumers?

Although much has been written about the versatility of tablets and the many technologies they may eventually replace, for now tablet owners seem reluctant to let go of, well, pretty much anything with a battery and a microchip. In fact, tablet owners are more likely than non-owners to also own all kinds of technological goodies, including those that tablets are said to be in danger of replacing, such as laptop computers and e-reader devices:

  • Mobile phone of any kind – 91% tablet owners, 74% non-owners
    • Smartphone – 70% tablet owners, 39% non-owners
  • TV any kind – 82% tablet owners, 74% non-ownersLaptop computer – 78% tablet owners, 60% non-owners
    • HDTV – 71% tablet owners, 55% non-owners
  • Digital camera of any kind – 75% tablet owners, 59% non-owners
  • Standalone DVD or Blu-ray player – 62% tablet owners, 51% non-owners
  • Home video game console – 55% tablet owners, 33% non-owners
  • Digital video recorder or DVR (TiVo, etc.) – 42% tablet owners, 27% non-owners
  • E-reader – 23% tablet owners, 14% non-owners
  • Handheld video game console – 23% tablet owners, 11% non-owners
  • Set-top streaming media box (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) – 13% tablet owners, 3% non-owners

Perhaps not surprisingly given the entertainment possibilities tablets open up, tablet owners are also significantly more likely to subscribe to streaming services – nearly 80% more likely than non-owners to subscribe to Netflix’s steaming service (34% tablet owners, 19% non-owners), over 40% more likely to subscribe to Hulu Plus (7% tablet owners, 4% non-owners) and over 250% more likely to subscribe to Amazon Prime (22% tablet owners, 6% non-owners).  But even so, they are also more likely than non-owners to subscribe to either cable or satellite TV services (80% tablet owners, 73% non-owners).

Tech trends continue to evolve, with nary a month going by without a major product launch of some kind.  As electronic gadgets and the ways we interact with them continue to evolve, The Harris Poll will be continuing to monitor what’s happening now and what may be just over the horizon.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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