Press Releases

Installed Base Growth Was Fueled by Historic 2020 Consumer Technology Sales

Port Washington, NY, April 26, 2021 – Consumer technology sales have seen historic growth since the pandemic began as consumers purchased new products to meet their growing technology needs or upgraded existing devices. While the COVID-19 pandemic turned our homes into places of work, school, entertainment, and rest, the devices we leveraged grew and changed to accommodate this lifestyle. In fact, by February 2021, U.S. households had over one billion devices installed, connected, and able to deliver digital content to a screen.

According to NPD’s Device Ownership Trends & Profile Report, from February 2020 through February 2021, there was an increase of more than 100 million TV-connected and mobile devices installed in U.S. households. As of February 2021, U.S. internet homes have an average of 9.5 installed and connected devices, up from 8.5 in February 2020. These devices include connected TVs, streaming media players, Blu-ray disc players, video game consoles, laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

“Stay at home orders issued as a result of the pandemic played a part in the tremendous growth we saw in TV-connected and mobile devices last year as consumers looked for new or different ways to consume content while at home more often than they might otherwise be,” stated John Buffone, Executive Director, Industry Analyst within NPD’s Connected Intelligence practice. “This influx of newer hardware and the growing installed base will continue to facilitate the accelerated growth in free and subscription streaming video during 2021 and beyond.”

Methodology

The results of The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence Device Ownership Trends Report are based on NPD’s quarterly Connected Home survey, which reaches 5,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. They report on more than 12,500 TVs installed in over 37,000 household rooms. This survey was fielded between January 25 and February 11, 2021.

Port Washington, NY, February 17, 2021 – According to the latest Home Automation Ownership & Usage Report from NPD’s Connected Intelligence, half of U.S. consumers own at least one smart home device, up from 35% in January of 2020. While security cameras remain the most commonly owned smart home device, NPD’s Retail Tracking Service data reveals the largest sales gains in 2020 were seen in security systems (+44%), smart garage door openers (+21%), and smart lighting (+19%).1

Security is a key motivator in smart home device purchases, and as such security cameras have been the leading volume driver for the past four years. In fact, they made up nearly one out of every four smart home device purchases at retail in 2020, the most of any device type. However, as many consumers shifted their focus to home projects during 2020 driven by pandemic restrictions, we saw growth in more convenience-driven categories. From January 2020 to October 2020 overall penetration in the smart lighting category grew from 8% to 12% driven in part by new smart homeowners (defined as those who purchased their devices from April-September 2020). Unit sales of smart lighting also saw strong gains up 43% in 2020 compared to 17% growth in 2019.

“While the pandemic played a role in sparking interest in additional smart home categories, the challenge to continue to grow the addressable market moving forward is in part average sales prices,” said Jill Aldort, director, industry analyst for The NPD Group. “Home automation ownership rates in households with an income of $150K+ are more than double those of under $45K income. As the landscape grows with new brands and new product lines from established brands, there could be opportunity for growth across a variety of categories at new price points.”

According to NPD’s Future of Tech report, smart home devices sales are forecasted to continue their growth in 2021, with sales up 9% over 2020. Some segments expected to drive the industry forward with at least twice that growth include smart locks, smart entry, and smart lighting.2

1Source: The NPD Group, Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service. Home automation devices do not include Smart speakers.
2Based on forecasted sales of technology products captured in The NPD Group Retail Tracking Service point-of-sale data, Streaming Audio Speakers Total Market report, and Smartwatch Total Market report. This does not include mobile phones or gaming consoles.

Methodology

The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Home Automation Ownership & Usage Survey is based on consumer panel research that reaches over 5,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. The survey was fielded between October 9-29, 2020.

Content remains king, driving consumer engagement with subscription video-on-demand services

Port Washington, NY, December 14, 2020 – This year saw an accelerated transition of viewing from traditional channels to free and subscription streaming video services, as consumers had more options to choose from and more time at home due to COVID restrictions. According to The NPD Group’s new TV Switching Study, which tracks changes in the ways U.S. consumers view and buy digital content, consumers that use streaming to view content now use seven services including subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services and free streaming video services, up from five in April 2020.

“By and large, consumers want the ability to customize their viewing experience, bundling both paid and free services that provide them with the content they want, when they want it,” stated John Buffone, Executive Director, Industry Analyst within NPD’s Connected Intelligence practice.

Access to exclusive content is a primary reason cited for engaging SVOD services, driving over 25% of engagement, while also resulting in a consumer’s desire to switch services. In fact, an increasing number of SVOD users – 21% in Oct. compared to 14% in April – are decreasing engagement or cancelling subscriptions because they feel other services offer better content.

Free streaming services saw growth from 39% of viewers in April to 47% in October*, as consumers leverage these offerings to supplement SVOD services. While nearly all free streaming services experience lower churn than average, as consumers do not have to subscribe to these platforms, they also experience lower engagement rates. This means these services must differentiate their content array or risk declining user engagement.

“Amidst COVID-related content production challenges, viewers are increasing the number of streaming services they use, as they seek to find content that captures their interest. Competition will become an even greater challenge for services. Both now, as viewers try more options and later as production ramps up and each service gets new programming,” added Buffone.

*Note: April 2020 data included past year free streaming users, while October 2020 data included past six month users.

Methodology
The results of the NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence TV Service Switching Study are based on online consumer surveys of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers. The report was fielded in October 14-22, 2020.

About Connected Intelligence
Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: http://www.connected-intelligence.com.

Verizon is buying prepaid mobile phone operator Tracfone in the latest seismic shift in the U.S. mobile market. The deal, reportedly worth $6.25 billion, will add 21 million subscribers to Verizon’s base and – far more importantly – strengthen Verizon’s prepaid portfolio which has always been relatively weak compared to the other major carriers. T-Mobile has Metro, AT&T has Cricket and now, Verizon will have Tracfone.

But it’s not quite as simple as that: while Verizon is adding 21 million subscribers, it was already making money off a large number of these (13 million) subscribers through a wholesale agreement with Tracfone, which does not own its own network, but rather wholesales from the main carriers. So the increased Verizon subscriber base will not result in quite as much revenue as a simple one plus one merger. That being said, with nearly two-thirds of the Tracfone base already using Verizon-compatible devices, the headache of merging the Tracfone customer base into the Verizon fold is significantly lower than a typical carrier merger would be. At the same time, the other carriers will take a hit in wholesale revenue, as both AT&T and the new T-Mobile also have wholesale agreements to support Tracfone and we can expect those to disappear at some point soon after the merger’s consummation, impacting both carriers’ bottom lines. Further, we can expect Verizon to come out of the acquisition process with guns a-blazing, upgrading Tracfone’s available network (5G anyone?) and generally making the carrier even more competitive.

While the deal will certainly increase pressure on T-Mobile and AT&T, the biggest impact may be felt by Dish, which now owns the Boost Mobile brand. Still in the process of developing a comprehensive mobile strategy, Dish will probably face a more aggressive prepaid focus from Verizon, as well as from the other two major networks looking to defend their turf against potential moves from the combined Tracfone/Verizon entity.

But that is likely 12 months from now, so Dish should have time to benefit from any upheaval caused by the merger. It could be a case of a short-term benefit (for Dish) with a longer term concern. In that case, it comes down to how quickly Dish can react to this news to make the most of any opportunity. And, of course, let’s not forget the obligatory regulatory hurdles that Verizon and Tracfone must overcome. But that should be a relatively smooth process: yes, this takes a competitor out of the market, but Tracfone does not own its own network so it could be argued that as a virtual operator the impact is less on the competitive landscape. Time will tell.

Only 18% of consumers report understanding of the different 5G network types currently available in the U.S.

Port Washington, NY, September 14, 2020 – While 5G technology has not yet been widely adopted, the majority of U.S. consumers are aware of 5G and the promise of super-fast data transmissions that enable superior multimedia streaming and enhanced gaming experiences on mobile devices. In fact, according to the latest Mobile Connectivity Report from NPD’s Connected Intelligence, 9 out of 10 consumers are aware of 5G networks; however, only 18% have heard of and understand the difference between the 5G network band types such as mid-band or high-band (Millimeter Wave) currently available in the U.S.

Generally, Android users have a higher level of awareness of the varieties of 5G networks currently available. In fact, 45% of Android users compared to 40% of iOS users are aware that there are different 5G network options. Despite the lack of knowledge around various 5G network types, 2 out of 3 consumers currently report interest in purchasing a 5G-enabled smartphone. Based on the report findings, iOS users show higher levels of interest (40% extremely or very interested) than Android users (33% extremely or very interested). 

“5G-enabled Android devices have been available to consumers, which may explain their increased awareness of 5G flavors, while iOS users have not yet had the opportunity to upgrade to 5G. Given the stronger interest from iOS users, a 5G-enabled iPhone could help drive adoption” said Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “On the other hand, the current premature state of 5G networks in terms of speed and coverage will continue to be a barrier in the mass adoption of 5G smartphones. 5G smartphone volumes are poised to increase as networks improve and 5G smartphone prices gradually decrease.”    

Methodology
The results of The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Mobile Connectivity Report are based on consumer panel research that reached 5,100 U.S. cellphone users, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. This survey was completed in August 2020.

About Connected Intelligence
Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: http://www.connected-intelligence.com.

Port Washington, NY, July 9, 2020 – The unlocked mobile phone market continues its upward trajectory with an estimated 50.1 million active unlocked smartphones running on U.S. mobile networks, an increase of eight percent[1] based on the latest findings from NPD’s Unlocked Phone Demand Report 5.0. However, despite this growth in units, tailwinds are slowing, likely due to expanding 5G networks and offerings as well as store closures occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bolstered by aggressive promotions from carriers, the BYOD [Bring-Your-Own-Device] trend continues to rise, as we saw over 20 percent of customers switching to a new service provider bring their own unlocked smartphones with them[2],” said Brad Akyuz, Executive Director and Industry Analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “Yet it’s difficult to overlook the impacts on this market from forces such as COVID-19 and a growing interest in 5G adoption.” 

5G Awareness, COVID Threaten the Unlocked Mobile Market (Not in the way conspiracy theorists assert)

Awareness of 5G services have reached record high levels thanks to the continual marketing pushes made by carriers. Unlocked smartphone users, who generally tend to be more tech-savvy than average smartphone users, unsurprisingly over-indexed in their awareness of the 5G technology.

[1] From the end of Q1’2019 to Q1’2020

[2] February 2020

In fact, 42 percent of unlocked smartphone owners cited they would be very or extremely interested in purchasing a 5G smartphone compared to only 31 percent of locked phone owners. This eagerness could slow any momentum in the unlocked market, as non-uniform 5G network deployments make it complex to use an unlocked smartphone on any network at its full 5G potential.

Additionally, store closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic limited mobile phone churn activity, long known to be essential for the sales of new locked and unlocked smartphones. As carriers had to migrate to online strategies, lowered operating costs afforded them the opportunity to offer additional subsidies on locked phones. Likewise, even after physical locations began reopening, carriers that want to continue to attract smartphone buyers are offering extended financing options, making locked devices more appealing than ever.

“A number of factors are converging to make locked mobile devices more attractive to consumers who are in the market for a new or upgraded phone,” added Akyuz. “We expect cash-constrained customers in a post-COVID marketplace will either delay device upgrades or opt for cost-effective locked alternatives.” 

Methodology

The results of the NPD Group Connected Intelligence Unlocked Phone Demand Report 5.0 are based on online consumer panel research of over 1,500 U.S. unlocked smartphone owners, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. This survey was fielded in May 2020.

About Connected Intelligence

Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: http://www.connected-intelligence.com.

About The NPD Group, Inc.

NPD offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help our clients grow their businesses in a changing world. Over 2000 companies worldwide rely on us to help them measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. We have offices in 27 cities worldwide, with operations spanning the Americas, Europe, and APAC. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, B2B technology, consumer technology, e-commerce, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, media entertainment, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, toys, travel retail, video games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit npd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup.

 

Press Contact

Lauren Leetun

Lauren.Leetun@npd.com

407.592.7923

While smartphones were once at the center of the connected technology universe, consumers are gravitating towards an integrated ecosystem with assistant at the core.

Port Washington, NYJune 18, 2020 – As connected tech adoption continues to increase among U.S. households, operating systems (iOS, Android) and the accompanying voice assistants are becoming increasingly important to consumers, according to data from The NPD Group’s new Evolving Ecosystem report out of the Connected Intelligence practice.

“Given that 88 percent of U.S. households claim at least one smartphone, and streaming media players are in 46 percent of Internet-connected homes, the U.S. consumer is primed to expand their adoption of connected technology platforms,” stated Eddie Hold, President, Connected Intelligence, The NPD Group.

The report, which takes a deep-dive look into the fluctuations driving consumers away from a smartphone-centric ecosystem and towards a more comprehensive voice assistant-enabled ecosystem, found that nearly 30 percent of U.S. households currently have a smart speaker device in use. Of those households, the greatest increases in connected technology adoption are coming from home automation products and use cases (+152%), smart watches (+120%), smart TVs (+60%), smart gaming consoles (+60%),streaming media players (+44%), and tablets (+26%) 1.

“As consumers become more adept at integrating their devices to enable smart home technology, they are looking to make the use of that technology as easy as possible. We see this in both the ways they are using the devices as well as in their loyalty towards a vendor’s ecosystem,” added Hold. “As a result, all aspects of the ecosystem are experiencing growth, proving that once a consumer starts using their voice assistant consistently, they are becoming far more focused on making sure all of their devices work seamlessly with it.”

NPD’s new Evolving Ecosystem report was recently released to monitor the products, services, and hardware comprising the hub of consumers’ electronics ecosystems. Data for the report was collected between January and February 2020. Beyond the adoption of devices and the preference for varying ecosystems, the report also examined the demographics of those using the voice assistant technology more frequently, finding that a broad range of consumers are jumping onto the assistant trend. Interestingly, the report did show that consumers within higher income brackets were more likely to own voice assistants which can help to drive increased technology spends.

[1] Base: voice assistant speakers; measure: percentage increase compared to base households

About Connected Intelligence

Connected Intelligence answers the question of what consumers do once they purchase today’s latest technology, such as mobile devices. Our mandate is to operate in partnership with the core NPD sales data to tell the broader story of an entire market. The combination of Sales Data and Ownership Data is unique to The NPD Group and provides the tools that you need to truly understand the consumer today, and what they are willing to buy next. https://connected-intelligence.com

Additionally, more mobile users are taking advantage of hotspot connectivity as carriers open allowances

Port Washington, NYMay 26, 2020 – According to the latest Mobile Data Consumption Report from NPD Connected Intelligence, cellular data consumption on smartphones in March 2020 was up by 75% year-over-year and 27% month-over-month. This increase in usage was driven primarily by increased time spent on social media applications, using video conferencing platforms, and viewing content via OTT video apps.

These trends coincide with an increase in consumers’ use of the mobile hotspot tethering feature on their smartphones. According to NPD, adoption rate of mobile hotspot usage hit a record 30 percent, up 25 percent year-over-year[1].

“There’s no doubt that mobile phones have been indispensable as most Americans find themselves under shelter-at-home mandates. For many, their phones provide a connection to the outside world – a lifeline so many are yearning for,” stated Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence.

“As the networks become increasingly stretched, we’re seeing more Americans utilize mobile hotspots for additional connectivity. Add into the mix that carriers have opened up more hotspot allowances, and we expect the numbers of people adopting hotspot usage on their devices to increase even more in the coming months.”

Video continues to be main driver of data consumption on smartphones, accounting for over 70% of the total data traffic (cellular and Wi-Fi combined). As people are spending more time at home, and – thus – in front of screens, NPD data from the Q1 2020 Data Consumption Report also revealed a noticeable correlation between the size of mobile phone screens and increased usage of video consumption. Users of smartphones with a screen size of 5.5-inches or larger consume 53% more data compared to those users on smartphones with screen sizes of between 4.5- and 5.5-inches.                                                                                                            

“Americans have more time to spend on their phones, trying to pass time at home or even standing in lines at grocery stores and wholesale retailers, watching engaging video content from any number of platforms that safely allows for social distancing,” added Akyuz.

Millennials report the highest interest in purchasing a 5G smartphone, reports NPD Connected Intelligence

Port Washington, NY, February 26, 2019 – According to the latest Mobile Connectivity Report from NPD Connected Intelligence, 5G awareness has reached nearly 2 out of 3 consumers, totaling 64 percent, at the end of the second half of 2018. This is up from 44 percent at the end of the first half of 2018.

Alongside increasing awareness, the report shows purchase potential is strong, as 33 percent of smartphone owners report interest in purchasing a 5G-enabled smartphone once available. Consumers on unlimited data plans, who presumably value the ability to download and stream content as needed, are more eager to purchase a 5G-enabled smartphone, at 43 percent. However, millennials report the highest potential to make the move to 5G with nearly half (49 percent) indicating interest.

“In the last several days, we’ve seen the first 5G-enabled smartphone announcements and as expected, the devices are coming with a premium price tag, due to economies of scale, and a slightly larger form factor, given the hardware needs, than what consumers have become accustom to,” said Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “While consumer sentiment is positive, cost, form factor, and availability of 5G services will ultimately determine whether consumers will upgrade to 5G-enabled smartphones to enjoy much faster connection speeds.”

 

Methodology 
The results of The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Mobile Connectivity Report are based on consumer panel research that reached 3,600 U.S. cellphone users, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. This survey was completed in February 2019.

About Connected Intelligence 
Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: http://www.connected-intelligence.com.

Seventy-five-inch and larger TVs saw the highest dollar share gain in the last 12 months, according to NPD

Port Washington, NY, December 20, 2018 – Looking to purchase a bigger TV to replace your current model? You are not alone. According to the TV Ownership Trends Report from NPD Connected Intelligence, 40 percent of U.S. consumers who replaced a TV over the last two years were most motivated by a desire to purchase a bigger screen. In fact, 40 percent of replacement TVs1 purchased had a screen size of 50+ inches, with 15 percent of those made up by TV screens 60-inches and larger.

In the 12 months ending October 2018, TV sales of 55-inch and larger screens grew 6 percent and represented 63 percent of dollar sales and 32 percent of unit sales. During that timeframe, 75-inch+ TVs saw the largest dollar share gain, now making up 10 percent of dollar sales, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service2.

“In 2017, 39 percent of TV unit sales for the year occurred in the fourth quarter, as consumers took advantage of holiday promotions to purchase gifts or upgrade their own viewing experience,” said Stephen Baker, vice president, industry advisor for The NPD Group. “Consumers are purchasing bigger and better TV screens, especially for the primary viewing room – the living room – and we expect that trend to continue beyond the holiday season and into the New Year, as manufacturers and retailers gear up for Super Bowl sales.”

When looking at the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, sales of 55-inch+ TVs grew to nearly 70 percent of dollar sales and 43 percent unit sales. Driven in part by holiday promotions, 55-inch and 65-inch TVs were the top selling by units, with 65-inch TVs taking the top spot in dollar sales3.

1Replacement TVs are defined as those purchased to replace an existing household TV.

2The NPD Group, U.S. Retail Tracking Service, LCD TVs, Nov. 2017- Oct. 2018. Sales are adjusted for 5wk Jan. 2018 vs. 4wk Jan. 2017.

3The NPD Group, U.S. Weekly Retail Tracking Service, LCD TVs, Week ending November 24, 2018.

Methodology

The results of The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence TV Ownership Trends Report are based on NPD’s quarterly Connected Home survey, which reaches 5,600 U.S. consumers, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. They report on more than 12,000 TVs installed within nearly 35,000 household rooms. This survey was completed between July 30, 2018 and August 7, 2018.

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