Nearly 4 in 10 Americans and Majority of Echo Boomers Planning a Tech Purchase in Next 3 Months

Ownership trends largely unchanged from last quarter, but holidays are just around the corner

Nov 25, 2013, 13:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Nov. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Thanksgiving is so close that you may already be starting to smell the turkey, and with Thanksgiving comes the unofficial kickoff of the holiday shopping season. So, while ownership in many of the top categories of tech products shows little to no growth in comparison to this summer, many American adults of all ages – and the majority of Echo Boomers – indicate they have tech purchases on the horizon.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,368 adults surveyed online between October 16 and 21, 2013 by Harris Interactive as part of its "Tech Tracker" intended to act as a barometer of technology ownership and interactions among U.S. adults. (Full findings, including data tables and all product categories tested, can be found here)

Ownership similar to last quarter

Just over half of Americans (52%) confirm owning a smartphone, down slightly from July (54%). Ownership levels specifically for Android powered smartphones (28%, vs. 30% in July) and iPhones (24%, vs. 23% in July) show similarly marginal shifts from last quarter.

In another of the most often discussed and analyzed categories, tablets, a similar story emerges. After rising from 33% to 38% between April and July, now rests at 36%. Other tech categories show similarly negligible shifts when compared to July.

With holidays approaching, many plan tech purchases

But looking ahead, nearly four in ten Americans (37%) - and the majority of Echo Boomers (54%) – plan on purchasing at least one tech devices from the tested list within the next three months. More specifically, roughly one in ten Americans indicate planning the following purchases within that time:

  • Smartphone (13%), with planned Android (6%) and iPhone (5%) purchases in a statistical dead heat.
  • Tablet (11%), with iPad/iPad mini purchase intent (6%) equaling combined intent for Amazon Kindle Fire series (3%) and Android powered (3%) tablets.
  • Computer (11%).
  • HDTV (8%).
  • A next-gen gaming console (8%) with PlayStation 4 purchase intent (6%) outpacing that of the Xbox One (3%) at a 2-to-1 ratio.

In news set to shatter absolutely no preconceptions, younger Americans and men are showing stronger intent to purchase tech items in the next three months.

  • Intent to purchase at least one tech item drops significantly with every generational step up, with Echo Boomers (ages 18-36) showing the strongest intent (54%), followed by Gen Xers (ages 37-48, 39%), Baby Boomers (ages 49-67, 29%) and finally Matures (ages 68+, 20%).
  • Men (45%) are also considerably more likely than women (30%) to have at least one tech purchased planned for the near future.

But the holiday season is all about the kids, right? And while we can't say with any certainty for whom upcoming tech purchases are intended, children may want to be extra gentle when shaking those wrapped packages and trying to guess what's inside. Americans with kids under 18 are considerably more likely than those without to be planning at least one tech purchase in the near future (54% and 32%, respectively), with some key gaps by category including:

  • Smartphone (21% of those with kids under 18, 11% of those without).
  • Tablet (21% with, 8% without).
  • Computer (21% with, 8% without).
  • Next-gen game console (14% with, 6% without).
    • Parents of children under 18 are twice as likely to be planning a PlayStation 4 purchase within the next three months (11%) as they are to be planning on buying an Xbox One (5%).

Does streamed content mean cut cords?

Three-fourths of Americans subscribe to either cable (52%) and/or satellite (25%) services, while one-fourth (25%) have Netflix streaming subscriptions, 13% subscribe to Amazon Prime and 4% subscribe to Hulu Plus.

Steaming content usage doesn't necessarily point to cut cords, though:

  • For example, those with kids under 18 over-index considerably when compared to the general population for streaming Netflix (37% and 25%, respectively) and Amazon Prime (18% and 13%, respectively) subscriptions, but show little divergence in combined cable and satellite subscriptions (72% parents, 75% general population).
  • Echo Boomers are another story entirely. In addition to being above the national average for Netflix streaming (41% Echo Boomers, 25% total) and Amazon Prime (17% and 13%, respectively) subscriptions, this generation shows considerably lower-than-average combined cable and satellite subscriptions (60% Echo Boomers, 75% total).

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 16 and 21, 2013 among 2,368 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #89, November 25, 2013
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive
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